Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood - Out of the Tube

Medeski Martin and Wood, the trio that virtually invented the whole notion of the jam band, have teamed up once again with John Scofield for a joyous open ended Meters-inspired jam Out Louder. Is it a reworking of past glories or a fresh new outing together? Andy Robson finds out. Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood - Out of the Tube
The new musical collaboration between John Scofield and the trio of Medeski, Martin and Wood Out Louder is the first major release on MMW’s own label, Indirecto, is an extraordinary series of jams, songs and improvised material that crawls with a funk and R&B energy.
So why here, why now? For Medeski, the musical desire to re-unite has been there since Scofield got the trio on board to support him for A Go Go. However, that was a very different project – most of the music was pre-written and all of it was by Sco. There was also a “star” (though sympathetic) producer on board: Lee Townsend whose hand has been on the tiller of so much of Bill Frisell’s material. And the album came out under the auspices of Verve for whom Scofield was a major artiste.

And 10 years on? The most obvious difference is that despite continuing stardom in the jazz firmament, neither Scofield nor MMW find themselves with a major recording deal. A decade ago this would’ve been seen as a disaster. Now, in an industry of smaller, leaner companies, often run by artists themselves, the lack of backing – or stifling control, depending on your point of view – has given the boys the opportunity to reconvene in a project where sensibilities are more simpatico than, say Blue Note’s shoehorning of MMW with rock’n’dance producer John King on End of The World Party. Scofield likewise had some curious partners in latter days with Verve, be it the Uberjam project or the enjoyable but hardly challenging Ray Charles tribute.

For now, though, the foursome feel able to record under their own terms: where, when, and what they lay down is largely their decision, with music not refracted through the needs of companies desperate to find a market or producers looking to mould a sound to their own vision. Such do-it-yourself control could be a recipe for self-indulgence and internal wrangling, but these boys have been around so long – ye Gods, Sco’s approaching his fifth decade as a pro, and it’s almost 20 years since Martin and Medeski first jammed in Billy’s Brooklyn loft – that trifles like ego don’t seem to muddy the mix.

As Medeski puts it: “We started off like that – independent – and to be honest we’ve been looking forward to being that way again for a while now. We like that, being independent: it’s our style.”

This feature is taken from Jazzwise Issue 107 - to read the rest of this article subscribe here