Though eclectic jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW) is undertaking its second-ever acoustic tour, don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s not going to be business as usual. Fortunately, with MMW, “business as usual” is often very unusual indeed. The group will perform in the Event Gallery of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on Sunday, October 7.
“It’s definitely not a different philosophy,” said bassist Chris Wood, who tends to favor the acoustic upright bass whether they’re playing plugged-in or not. “We have a certain chemistry together, and we kind of get together and react to what’s happening. Depending upon the environment we’re in and the different sounds we have at our fingertips, it’s going to sound different, but the philosophy is the same. It’s just to improvise and make good music if we can.”
The performance at Bethel Woods is in the midst of a three-day holiday weekend at Bethel Woods, which includes a Wine Festival and Harvest Festival.
To the delight of its legions of devotees, MMW – which also includes John Medeski on keyboards and Billy Martin on drums and percussion – is impossible to pin down, mixing improvisational elements of jazz, funk, hip-hop and downtown art noise to create something altogether unique. To that end, the group is touring in support of Free Magic, a new album featuring recordings taken from its first acoustic tour in 2007. But even with Free Magic on their minds, Wood isn’t sure what they’ll be playing.
“I really have no idea,” Wood said. “With MMW, you don’t know until the tour starts. MMW is kind of this three-headed monster, and there’s no leader in this band, so things don’t get decided much until we get in a room together. That’s what’s crazy about it – and that’s what’s beautiful about it, too. We’ll find out when we get there.”
An Acoustic Evening with Medeski Martin & Wood is scheduled for Sunday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Event Gallery of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Tickets cost $40 in advance and $45 the day of the show. For more information, visit www.bethelwoodscenter.org and www.mmw.net.