MEDESKI MARTIN AND WOOD — The Dropper (review)

MEDESKI MARTIN AND WOOD — The Dropper album cover Album · 2000 · Eclectic Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
M.Neumann
MMW's seventh studio album (and second for the Blue Note label) is one of their strongest: high praise indeed when considering the typically stellar quality of their entire discography to date. It was released the same year as the trio's (likewise recommended) live set "Tonic", but the two discs couldn't be more different. Instead of the strictly acoustic be-bop of their concert recording, this one digs a deep electronic groove through altogether harsher, more abstract territory, with more than a hint of mind-bending acid-jazz psychedelia. It's a truly unclassifiable sound, unique to this band and best described perhaps as Kitchen Sink Fusion.

The warped portrait on the album cover offers a fair illustration of the style of music played: the distorted Hammond organ runs ("Big Time"); the backwoods swamp funk ("Partido Alto", one of many tracks with prominent Mellotron accents, often skewed to sound like a drunken violinist); the free-jazz weirdness ("Ilinization"); slinky late-night blues ("Note Blue"); and at least one number worthwhile for its title alone ("Philly Cheese Blunt").

The album opener, "We Are Rolling", sets the mood like an unexpected sucker punch to the gut; the closer ("Norah 6") plays like a somnambulist's remix of the same. In between you might hear anything from exotic Brazilian hand-held percussion to rinky-dink toy pianos (the two are actually played together in "Sun Sleigh").

Over the years Medeski Martin and Wood have continued to refine their role as dedicated post- modern hipsters taking jazz into the 23rd century. And by simply listening to albums like "The Dropper" you too can get a head start on the next Millennium. Be there, or be square.
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