John Medeski at the ICA
So the announcement of a Medeski solo piano concert had me hoping to reconnect with a long-lost favorite.
The opening twenty minutes or so were terrific. A start from nothing type of improvisation built around some Messiaen-like dissonances and clusters eventually settling around the tune of “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.” Tunes were used as anchors for the improvisations, rather than jumping-off points. (Green Dolphin Street, I Remember You). But, like a microcosm of our 25 years together, things started to go astray. Vamps started to creep in along with oscillating between two chords a minor third apart and repeating descending basslines. Although Medeski was often playing interesting things on top of them, I was finding these repetitious forms exasperating. Things picked up towards the end with a piece built on repeating bass note, played both inside the piano and from the keyboard, going with and against the overtones of that repeated note. But, then came a tired trite gospel number that just deflated me. It was as if Jackson Pollack suddenly decided to paint a bowl of fruit. The encore, though, was a more satisfying inside-out jazz number. In the end, more good than bad, but one of those frustrating things where a musician you think is really great does things you just don't like.
“You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch” from the eponymous record by Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-o
In an attempt to force Christmas Spirit upon myself, I loaded the Christmas playlist on to the iPod, and this was the first track to come up. (Also an Either/Orchestra alum, as it happens)
“The Puritan War on Christmas Was the Best War on Christmas” by Abby Ohlheiser at theWire.com
If not negating the above attempt, at least making me feel a bit better about my bad attitude. No more of this Happy Holidays! crap, Happy Saturnalia everybody!