Medeski, Martin, & Wood sure like their fair share of jazz guitarists. Recently, they teamed up with Nels Cline, who if you weren’t aware of, is the guitarist for one of the U.S.’ most famous bands, Wilco. On this collaboration, Woodstock Sessions Vol. 2, the group channels a free-flowing, experimental canyon of sound. Take “Doors of Deception,” the opening track. It begins with a series of atonal noises and misaligned percussion that seems to backtrack in on itself. A clear influence here is avant-garde artists John Zorn and John Coltrane.
On songs such as “Mezcal” and “Los Blank,” the members flow back into a more tangible composition. “Mezcal” opens with gritty guitar crunches and a smooth, spidery pat-down of percussion. Even though the sound moves into a chaotic tumble and epiphany section, it mimics the effects of what really great tequila can do to a man or woman (see: “Tequila and Chocolate” by MMW featuring John Scofield). “Los Blank” explores a depth of feedback and slow groove. Toward the close of the song a didgeridoo glues together the fragmented pieces.
Essentially, it appears that Woodstock Session Vol. 2 is meant to dissect the listener. “Arm & Leg” is reminiscent of the aching feedback in “Doors of Deception.” Didn’t I just listen to this? Where am I? It’s an orientation to a disoriented state. “Jade provides a refreshing break to the sleep-walking whirlwind. Nels Cline’s chords fleck and spin off in a delicious medley, as John Medeski offers the signature MMW sound to keep the song in a tangible groove.
If you haven’t listened to something before it’s right about time. Each track disintegrates at one moment and rises up from its ashes with a brazen, golden sound. This is only the second volume for the compilation called Woodstock Sessions (Alan Evans Trio claimed the first), and hopefully not the last.