12 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

While MMW bassist Chris Wood was collaborating with his brother Oliver on their folk- and blues-based project, the other two-thirds of the avant-garde jazz trio decided to return to their roots as a Hammond organ-drums duo. In the mid-1980s, keyboardist John Medeski and percussionist Billy Martin had initially planned to record as a duo — until Wood intervened —-and 20 years later, the opportunity arose, resulting in the engaging, all-original Mago. The album is bookended by a pair of off-the-cuff free jams, “Introducing Mago” and “L’Aventura,” which are notable for their intensity and ferocity, but most of the remaining cuts are deeply beholden to the almighty groove. As usual, Martin and Medeski are able to find a number of different avenues to explore that basic beat-based framework. “Crustaceatron” has a definite hip-hop flavor, for example, while “Mojet” and the buoyant “Miss Teardrop” venture into ’60s soul jazz and boogaloo territory. The deep and dawdling “Apology” adds elements of gospel while “Bonfa” is funk with a subtle Latin flair. The playful “Bamboo Pants” blends the duo’s groovy side with its experimental tendencies to great effect.

EDITORS’ NOTES

While MMW bassist Chris Wood was collaborating with his brother Oliver on their folk- and blues-based project, the other two-thirds of the avant-garde jazz trio decided to return to their roots as a Hammond organ-drums duo. In the mid-1980s, keyboardist John Medeski and percussionist Billy Martin had initially planned to record as a duo — until Wood intervened —-and 20 years later, the opportunity arose, resulting in the engaging, all-original Mago. The album is bookended by a pair of off-the-cuff free jams, “Introducing Mago” and “L’Aventura,” which are notable for their intensity and ferocity, but most of the remaining cuts are deeply beholden to the almighty groove. As usual, Martin and Medeski are able to find a number of different avenues to explore that basic beat-based framework. “Crustaceatron” has a definite hip-hop flavor, for example, while “Mojet” and the buoyant “Miss Teardrop” venture into ’60s soul jazz and boogaloo territory. The deep and dawdling “Apology” adds elements of gospel while “Bonfa” is funk with a subtle Latin flair. The playful “Bamboo Pants” blends the duo’s groovy side with its experimental tendencies to great effect.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.1 out of 5
21 Ratings

21 Ratings

Jgulbransen ,

Awesome, even w/o Wood

I am a pretty big fan of MMW and these guys jam! This departure from MMW to MM is different but awesome. I am a bass player and love Wood, he is insane live, with that being said this is still a good album with just the drums and hammond. Definate buy if you are a fan of these guys

mago1 ,

missing the point

i've heard and seen so many people complain about how this album doesn't have chris wood. have you paid attention to any of the news or even the fact that its a MEDESKI & MARTIN album? and how the group started because they both had a jam session and realized there was something musically significant between them, and they then brought in chris wood.

but they vowed to someday create a duo album, and now almost 20 years later, they did. its minimalist, but its unique. the reason they don't have chris wood on the album, is because its not a Medeski Martin & Wood album, its a Medeski & Martin album. its how the band started. just drums and organ.

please don't complain, just enjoy and appreciate. this is something different.

Sansserif ,

Jazz infusion

What Chris Wood gives to MMW's music with his bass is backbone. Mago has free-form jazz overtones that MMW doesn't; the first track, for example, is a prolonged, frenetic burst of clattering notes, and it sounds like traditional old-school jazz. The jazz mentality gives to this album the same quality that it gives to all jazz: a willingness to explore sounds for the sake of sound.

Even if you're not into that level of abstraction, the majority of the tracks on this album run along a more concrete arc. The minimalism of two instruments leaves more air space for Medeski and Martin to fill up, and, like the incredibly talented musians they are, they don't disappoint.

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