Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood - Out Louder

Indirecto Records (US); Universal Music Group (Japan and Europe)

Release date date: September 26th 2006 (US). April 4th 2007 (Japan). April 16th 2007 (Europe)

Out Louder cover

"Out Louder" revives memories of John Scofield's 1998 album "A Go Go" where his rock inspired post bop was enlivened by the hip hop influenced jazz vibe of Medeski, Martin and Wood. It was one of John Scofield's most admired successes and he was clearly the leader with all ten tracks composed by him. However, with "Out Louder" it is very much the case that John Scofield has joined the Medeski, Martin and Wood band. There is just one John Scofield composition (the opener, "Little Walter Rides Again") with six tracks credited as joint compositions by the whole band and two Chris Wood compositions. In addition there is a John Lennon composition "Julia" and a Peter Tosh composition "Legalize It". So, "Out Louder' is no "A Go Go" mark II.

Like many a Medeski, Martin and Wood album (built around John Medeski on keyboards, Billy Martin on drums and Chris Wood on bass), it is proper to expect the unexpected.

"Little Walter Rides Again" is a typical up front, laid back blues piece, very much like "A Go Go" in conception and realization with strong cross rhythms and very typical Sco guitar breaks. But the expected ambience is rapidly shattered by "Miles Behind", a raucous free form thrash that could have escaped from the 'sixties; not quite Miles, but definitely in John McGlaughlin/Tony Williams territory with wah-wah distorted electric guitar and a tilt at "Saudades" with heavy rock drumming. Sco's wah wah guitar sounds almost like Frank Zappa on "Hot Rats" or "Weasels Ripped My Flesh!"

"In Case The World Changes Its Mind" is a chugging low down funk blues inspired piece with organ tuned more to a harmonica sound than jazz Hammond organ. There is an almost country like feel pointing towards Bill Frissell. With "Tequilia And Chocolate" it should be becoming clear that almost each track will have its own uniquely experimental aspect rather than the album as a whole having a settled overall feel. The track is a peculiar Spanish/ Latin tinged piece that sounds as if it could have escaped from a café in Madrid, albeit being played through amplified instruments.

The traditional "Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing" is led by a strong running base line with typical Sco hunched guitar playing over swirling organ riffs, a return to the "A Go Go" blues riff mentality. But the latin inspired "Cachaca" returns to a distorted organ sound with weird guitar parts, almost like a distorted film soundtrack, before Sco's more normal guitar sound comes through. "Hanuman" has the organ sound like bass clarinet or even didgeridoo, building a steady rock riff over a distorted backing. The music veers far from jazz orthodoxy with "Telegraph" with its screeching free form organ with phased sequences and guitar struggling to connect on top and "What Now" where disruptive phased funk guitar over rock organ aims at heavy blues-rock in the same space as but not remotely comparable with Stevie Winwood's playing on Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland".

The eclecticism continues with "Julia", John Lennon's poignant lullaby to his estranged (and deceased) mother, given a beautiful ballad treatment, but perhaps heading for the smooth jazz terminal.

"Down The Tube" returns to disruptive phased organ with a funk backing, perhaps making a take on Parliament. The "talking" bass lines are particularly annoying and the track is overlong at 11 minutes. The album ends with "Legalize It", taken as an attractive latin orientated funk piece.

There is a great wealth of music of many shades and hues here and, if you are not expecting a re-run of "A Go Go", there is much to enjoy.

The Europe and Asia release includes a bonus disc to accompany the album, featuring a live MSMW performance at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City from November 2006. It is a further 45 minutes of music featuring two tracks from "A Go Go" (the title track and "Deadzy"), live versions of two tracks from "Out Louder" ("Down The Tube" and "What Now") a version of the hymn "Amazing Grace" and the MMW track "Ay Chicas".

The band toured Europe in summer 2007.

Good quality sound clips of all the tracks on the album are available on the John Scofield web site. where tour details are also available.

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Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood - Out Louder

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