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324: “Lacrima” by John Medeski

The guy between two limbsHere are some concepts for your cognitive toolkit when you’re awake at 2 or 3am and your mind is racing with shadowy, sinister reflections of your actual life…

Blow Out Your Worry Fuse
Perhaps if you worry enough, you’ll blow out your worry apparatus and your mind will shut down for slumber… Did you feel something on your leg? Does your family have a good escape plan in case of a quickly-spreading fire? Maybe your past transgressions will catch up with you soon. It could very well be everyone at work hates your stupid face and talks about you while you’re not around. Your mom might not even really like you at all. Your mattress contains 42 pounds of dust mites roiling underneath you. And so on.

Do Some Mental Stretching
By ruminating on concepts such as:
-One hand clapping.
-If you time travel and you kill your younger self, what kind of special effects would best render the catastrophic undoing of time and space?
-Trek or Wars?
-What do fish think about?
-Why is there anything instead of nothing?
-Humans have flown into space; humans have created computerized access points to a universe of knowledge that will fit in our pockets; the Spice Girls were also hugely popular.
-And so on.

Grim and Bear It
Simply consider the fact that every living thing will someday die. You may cry when you consider the misery of one person (that person might even be yourself), yet there are millions more suffering as badly and worse. If you were truly able to fathom the current pain and misery worldwide in our species alone, you would surely go insane. You can only slog through as best you can, with protective blinders on, taking only brief glimpses at the grim chasm of reality looming beneath you, lest you lose your resolve. You’re just awake, in the middle of the night, and chewing straw with your goat brain. Tomorrow you will roll the stone up the hill again, and every day after it until you die. Like every single one before and after you. And so on.

Scale Up And Look Down
The earth is a tiny speck of rock (and stuff) swinging a needle’s arc through space, 92,960,000 miles from a medium-sized sun that is one of hundreds of millions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Then there are hundreds of millions of galaxies outside this one. The distances in and between them are so stupefyingly large, that by existing at all, you are standing on the edge of an ocean of vastness that defies the imagination of your practically quantum-level self-awareness. And right now you’re laying in bed worrying about issues another order of magnitude smaller than your own lilliputian self. On what scale are you measuring your nighttime thoughts?

Think About Your Mother/Grandmothers
Feeding you. Telling you to be careful. Giving you bubble gum. Applying band-aids. Calling out your name. Crying tears for your pain. Hugging you. And so on.

Listen to John Medeski’s A Different Time
“Lacrima” tastes best in the quietest hours of the night. John Medeski‘s first solo piano album, A Different Time, is very intimate. No ornate trappings. Just John Medeski and the orchestra he pulls out of a piano. It’s a great listen with headphones, lying in bed, and savoring the various tones of your existential transit.

Enjoy.

Song: Lacrima
Artist: John Medeski
Album: A Different Time
Label: OKEH
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Listen: MOG | Rdio

Watch: Album Release Party, Interview

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300: “Nostalgia in Times Square / Angel Race” by Medeski, Martin & Wood

At a SiriusXM recording for a porn soundtrackTo celebrate #300, I’m posting a brand spanking new one from my all-time favorite law firm! Medeski, Martin & Wood fight insurance and drug companies in court with the same rigor and enthusiasm with which they tear through and assimilate musical genres.

(John Medeski – piano / Billy Martin – percussion / Chris Wood – bass)

MMW’s latest album, Free Magic (2012), is a selection of 5 lengthy live acoustic tracks from a tour in 2007. Watching them live is the ultimate way to experience their music. If you pay attention you can see them communicating with subtle glances and gestures, steering their heavily improvised musical creations with nearly telepathic coordination. Of course, they have been together since 1991, breathing each others’ emissions and syncing up their minstrel cycles.

The reactive chemistry and interplay of their music is something to behold. It’s very much like magic, an output greater than the sum of the inputs, and these guys can make it for free if you don’t count the 21 years of practice… and the fact that you pay to listen to them. Whatev. Enjoy.

Song: Nostalgia in Times Square / Angel Race
Artist: Medeski, Martin & Wood
Album: Free Magic
Label: Indirecto Records
Buy from: MusicToday | Amazon | iTunes
Listen: MOG | Spotify
Watch: YouTube

160: “Joyful Sounds” by The Word

The Word To The MotherLet’s hop in the Wayback Machine and head back to 2001, when Robert Randolph, the North Mississippi Allstars, and John Medeski teamed up to form The Word, an instrumental, gospel-inspired quintet.

Below is a video of the group performing on The Late Show with David Letterman.

It’s Friday, feels like spring in Knoxville, and life is beautiful.  Enjoy.

Song: Joyful Sounds
Artist: The Word
Album: The Word
Label: Ropeadope Records
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes | Ropeadope

150: “Baby Goats” by Will Bernard

Put in a nickel. Buy me a new hat, bitches.Baby goats. Not fainting goats.  Not men who stare at goats.

The name of an instrumental song can make all the difference in the world.  In this case, I am not feeling a connection between the cloven-hoofed beasts and this jazzy number by Will Bernard and a helluva backup band (John Medeski, Stanton Moore, Andy Hess).

Perhaps the song is a pre-emptive strike against industrial goat-farming before it spreads.  In which case, you should enjoy, but only with an aching sense of guilt.

Song: Baby Goats
Artist: Will Bernard
Album: Blue Plate Special
Label: Palmetto
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes

115: “Hey Joe” by Medeski, Martin & Wood

It's so obvious that John Medeski just farted in this picture.I shan’t post songs by the same artist very many times.  These guys deserve a double-post (see original post).

The notion of hearing a jazz piano trio cover Jimi Hendrix has a great deal of potential to initiate your gag reflex.  Medeski, Martin & Wood calls bullcrap on that.  French intended.

First video: a recording from an intimate live performance of “Hey Joe” at Tonic in NYC.  For some reason it has 3 1/2 minutes of dead time at the end.

Second video: a lo-def video recording of “Hey Joe” at a jazz festival from 2001 (thanks, astute readers!!).  Marc Ribot sits in for a smoking solo on this soul-searing rendition of one of Hendrix’s finest.  Mais, oui.

Always improvise.  And enjoy.

Song: Hey Joe
Artist: Medeski, Martin & Wood
Album: Tonic
Label: Blue Note
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes