The jazz trio Medeski Martin and Wood first performed together in 1991 at the now-defunct Village Gate nightclub in downtown Manhattan, in a style neither they nor others put a name to. They sounded as much like a rock band as a jazz group, creating some new fans, and puzzling some others.
In retrospect, the trio (also known as MMW), which performs Saturday night at the Showbox at the Market, was part of a shift in jazz, although few were conscious of it at the time. The genre had settled into a thoughtful, formal conservatism (defined largely by the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis) based on the studied rules and musical discipline set by earlier masters.
Musicians such as pianist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood then in their early 20s had different inclinations. They chose to indulge their curiosities outside of conventional jazz, applying their personalities as much as their training to their music.
I can't always call what we do jazz," said Medeski, who plans to play the piano, organ and electronic keyboard at the Showbox. But there is a spirit of jazz in our music. For some people we're jazz; for some people we're rock. We have a loyal following because there is a true spontaneity in our music. We do that every night."
This story appears courtesy of Seattle Jazz Scene.
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