Despite being a cool, downtown NYC jazz act with roots in the early Nineties avant-garde scene of John Lurie and John Zorn, no one loves Medeski, Martin & Wood like the patchouli-loving, Birkenstocks-on-the-weekend hippie in the next cubicle. MM&W's supersonic organ funk jams with DJ Logic in the Nineties forever cemented their relationship with neohippies, who first heard them when Phish used the group's early albums as bumper music between sets.
While jazzbo/hippie relations are nourished through MM&W visits to Bonnaroo, Langerado, and this year's Jam Cruise, the band is exponentially expanding its horizons thanks to the destruction of the record business. The group has already put out 14 albums, one EP, and two best-of collections between 1992 and 2006, which would be considered extremely prolific by any measure. Still, 2008 saw the release of three separate MM&W albums.
The first, Let's Go Everywhere, is a children's record, with the title track interpolating Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere" into a call to arms for kids to travel the globe old-school, through music and imagination. The second 2008 MM&W release, Zaebos, is a return to the music of their beginnings. It's a collection of Zorn tunes, with range from the prog rock/free jazz DMZ of "Zagzagel" to the jagged piano/acoustic bass workout "Rifion."
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The third release, Radiolarians Vol. 1, is the first installment of one of the more bold projects in recent memory. Beginning last February, MM&W scheduled three tour runs, with each one planned as the breeding ground for a new album. Volume 1 contained plenty of starter yeast from jams such as "Professor Nohair," a tribute to New Orleans jazz great Professor Longhair. Similarly, Radiolarians Volume 2, which was recently completed, and Volume 3, which is being made right now, were completely conceived from improvs on the road.