Happy Birthday John Medeski: Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood Plays Lugano In 2007

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Virtuosic keyboardist John Medeski was born in Louisville on this date in 1965. The now 53-year-old musician is a founding member of the beloved Medeski Martin & Wood, a group that fuses traditional jazz with elements of funk, hip-hop, soul and rock. MMW’s inventive style put them on John Scofield’s radar and the famed jazz guitarist enlisted the trio to serve as his backing band on the instant classic 1997 album A Go Go. The foursome went on to release Out Louder in 2006, In Case The World Changes Its Mind in 2011 and Juice in 2014. A fine display of MSMW’s chemistry can be found by viewing their Lugano Estival Jazz performance from 2007 below.

Scofield leads the group through the hooky “Little Walter Rides Again” from Out Louder to start the set. Wood takes a meaty solo before the song wraps up with a jaw-dropping call-and-response segment featuring Medeski and Scofield. The keyboardist shows off his skills on the many different instruments within his rig throughout the set. His Melodica work on “In Case The World Changes Its Mind” is a treat to behold. Medeski later gives the Clavinet a workout during an adventurous improvisational segment.

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The 75-minute set is a master class in dynamics as the quartet moves swiftly from dark and evil motifs to pretty, light and airy music. One of the best examples of the latter comes with Medeski Martin Scofield & Wood’s gorgeous cover of the Beatles’ “Julia.” John provides beautiful textures on the organ while Scofield simulates the lyrics on guitar before the pair switch roles. MSMW’s main set in Lugano concludes with the fierce “Hottentot” off A Go Go and then the quartet encores with the groovy title track.

Watch Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood’s set at Lugano Estival Jazz from July 5, 2007:

Setlist

Set: Little Walter Rides Again, Tequila & Chocolate, In Case The World Changes Its Mind, Down The Tubes (Improv), Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing, Julia, Hottentot

Encore: A Go Go

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