End of the World Party (just in case)

Medeski Martin & Wood. <i>Blue Note</i>.

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Subtle tensions ignite MMW’s exhilarating new album. There’s a tug-of-war between the hipster jazz vibe (tedious in large doses) and the trio’s frisky delight in playing for the old-fashioned fun of it. “New Planet” opens with a detached groove, blossoming into an ode to ’70s funk, fiery and leisurely at once. Elsewhere, jam-band excess and pop precision collide. With witty piano man John Medeski leading the way, the clean, lean “Queen Bee” recalls the soulful Memphis instrumentals of Booker T. & the MG’s, while the swinging title track echoes Ramsey Lewis’ exuberant ’60s pop jazz. Bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin may be the snappiest rhythm section alive, pulsing yet never pounding. Should the end be near, here’s the perfect sound track to ease the pain.


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