The Dropper

COMPOSERS: Martin,Medeski,Wood
LABELS: Blue Note
PERFORMER: John Medeski (ky), Billy Martin (d), Chris Wood (b), etc
CATALOGUE NO: 5 22841 2

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MMW belong to Blue Note’s new wave. After pushing a succession of talented but nondescript tenorists, major labels like Blue Note have finally accepted that even if there is a new Coltrane waiting in the wings, we prefer the original model – so let’s move on. MMW’s progression is into an area that is most accurately described as ‘grunge jazz’.

Produced by class hip-hop engineer Scotty Hard, The Dropper is more dense and abrasive than the trio’s previous work. Its sound retains the bump and grind of an old-fashioned supper-club organ trio but the instruments, including guest Marc Ribot’s guitar, have been put through the mincer. A shuffling backbeat, overdubs of creepy effects, plenty of reverb and a great deal of gratuitous scribbling put you in mind of the sort of lounge bar that David ‘Eraserhead’ Lynch might frequent: dark, a little disconcerting and very fashionable.

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Purists might want to know if this has got anything to do with jazz and the trio’s Blue Note ancestry. In so much as MMW is trying to startle us with a new thing, the band probably has more in common with pioneers such as Horace Silver and Art Blakey than do a half dozen post-bop retreads. Garry Booth