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Tonic

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Will Meyerhofer
Leaving behind their plugged-in, Hammond organ-fueled, acid-jazz sound, Medeski Martin & Wood dive headfirst into acoustic jazz waters. This blazing live set recorded in March 1999 at Tonic, a tiny club located in a basement in Manhattan's trendy Lower East Side, finds the band reinventing themselves as a piano trio. What's most impressive is the comfort these guys have switching styles within an unplugged context - - they go from the most out-there, free-form sound collage to swinging sophisticated groovesmanship without breaking a sweat -- and make it fun to be along for the ride. The set is organized as a series of improvised bridges linking four cover tunes. ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Will Meyerhofer
Leaving behind their plugged-in, Hammond organ-fueled, acid-jazz sound, Medeski Martin & Wood dive headfirst into acoustic jazz waters. This blazing live set recorded in March 1999 at Tonic, a tiny club located in a basement in Manhattan's trendy Lower East Side, finds the band reinventing themselves as a piano trio. What's most impressive is the comfort these guys have switching styles within an unplugged context - - they go from the most out-there, free-form sound collage to swinging sophisticated groovesmanship without breaking a sweat -- and make it fun to be along for the ride. The set is organized as a series of improvised bridges linking four cover tunes. The opening improvisation, "Invocation," takes the trio as close to playing without rules as they get and displays John Medeski's penchant for jittery tremolos, dissonant chordal splashes, and fast frenetic runs on his Steinway grand. Just when you think MMW might be lost in its own free-form soup, someone throws a switch, the unit snaps into place as tight as a drum, and out pours a fast, fresh, sophisticated groove. "Afrique," a Lee Morgan composition, is another display of contrasts: junkyard funkiness one minute -- smooth walking bass line the next. "Seven Deadlies" begins with a simple repeating bass lick that takes the band all the way out to free-jazz dissonance and back again, only to resolve into a bluesy amble, a moment or two of Stockhausian plinks and plunks; and then we're into the Coltrane ballad, "Your Lady," which gets a fairly reverent reading. Here, Medeski lets the Steinway sing a little, and even if Martin clicks and snaps a bit on those drum rims, a hushed mood prevails. The number ends with a slow screech of bowed harmonics from Chris Woods's double bass -- an ingenious closing echo of Trane's saxophone sheets of sound. "Rise Up" breaks the mood with a rousing bluesy anthem that's all happiness and smiles. By the time the band gets to Bud Powell's bouncy, angular "Buster Rides Again," they are obviously having fun and it shows. "Thaw" is another extended improv -- this time it's about brushes and cymbals and tremelos, and the mystical East. "Hey Joe," the closing snatch of a coda, is less Hendrix homage than bluesy benediction. In all, a consummate set by a trio that transcends labels with ease. Don't hesitate to pick this one up -- it's as satisfying as it is unexpected.
All Music Guide - Steve Huey
The first officially released live album by Medeski, Martin & Wood, as well as their first acoustic recording since their debut, Tonic captures the best of several 1999 performances at the small New York City club of the same name. The group's playing is a nice mix of outside, bop, and funky grooves, but the difference here is that Medeski is unable to rely on the electric organ to produce effects. That often means his lines are busier and more staccato than usual, and, especially on "Invocation" and "Thaw," he takes spirited flights into the avant-garde with chaotic yet controlled flurries of notes. The group's rhythmic interplay, too, becomes more important in this context, with the grooves shifting around often enough to give the musicians more to react to. The eight-song program is equally divided between originals and covers with the latter category including hard bop material by Lee Morgan, John Coltrane, and Bud Powell, as well as a gentle, album-closing rendition of the rock standard "Hey Joe." Although Tonic is markedly different from the jazz-funk-rock with which MMW made their name, it's a rewarding excursion and one of their most purely jazz-oriented works.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/1/2000
  • Label: Emi Europe Generic
  • UPC: 724352527120
  • Catalog Number: 5252712
  • Sales rank: 94,977

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Invocation (5:15)
  2. 2 Afrique (8:24)
  3. 3 Seven Deadlies (10:56)
  4. 4 Your Lady (9:12)
  5. 5 Rise Up (11:14)
  6. 6 Buster Rides Again (7:36)
  7. 7 Thaw (11:32)
  8. 8 Hey Joe (5:30)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Medeski, Martin & Wood Primary Artist, Primary Artist
John Medeski Piano, Melodica, Track Performer
Billy Martin Percussion, Drums, Track Performer, Mbira
Chris Wood Bass
Technical Credits
Duke Ellington Composer
John Medeski Composer
Mark Wilder Mastering
Medeski, Martin & Wood Producer
Billy Martin Composer
Chris Wood Composer
Heung-Heung "Chippy" Chin Art Direction
David Baker Preparation for CD Mastering
Frederico Cribiore Engineer
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