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Jazzed About MMW



    Medeski Martin & Wood, conveniently called MMW by most, will bring their freaky brand of jam-jazz to the House of Blues on Wednesday.

    I've been an MMW fan since the early days -- the band's 1995 album Friday Afternoon in the Universe is a triumph, but only a hint of what they would later do -- so it's with great enthusiasm that I welcome their return to San Diego.

    MMW is John Medeski on keys, Billy Martin on drums and Chris Wood on bass. Each member is individually talented, but they also know each other like brothers -- which gives them an extra-sensorylike understanding of improv.

    In the beginning, according to their official biography, MMW had only two things to call their own: "friendship and a bright future." As the trio began to incorporate hip-hop beats and samples into their jazz aesthetic, however, its meager beginnings led to great acclaim and a hypnotic/harmonic star was born.

    In 2004, the band took a four-year break from releasing new material, then dropped five albums in about 18 months. First, a children's album and a collaboration with John Zorn in 2008, then a three-disc series called Radiolarians that began to be released that same year. In late 2009, MMW completed the series and released The Evolutionary Set, a compilation of the three Radiolarians records into one package, along with numerous extras.

    Included in the set are bonus tracks, a 70-minute live record, a remix CD featuring contributions from Dan the Automator, DJ Spooky, DJ Logic and others, and a Billy Martin-directed feature film called Fly in a Bottle. To further celebrate the release of The Evolutionary Set, the band hand-picked tracks for a high-quality double vinyl LP pressing. According to a press release: "The band wanted to give its fans a chance to experience the music in a superior audio format while offering the visceral physical connection that can only come through vinyl." Yum.

    Medeski Martin & Wood have collaborated with the North Mississippi Allstars and pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph, and most notably John Scofield (who will play at Anthology in mid-March). Their song "End of the World Party" has also been featured on Grey's Anatomy.

    Fortunately, MMW's show at House of Blues promises to be nothing like Grey's Anatomy; I'm trying to say that it promises to be good. Get your tickets here or go to the HoB box office on 6th Street between C Street and Broadway to avoid some of the inevitable service fees.

    T. Loper is a writer for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear.