May 28, 2024

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CD review: John Medeski’s Mad Skillet – Mad Skillet 2018: Video

The inception of John Medeski’s Mad Skillet can be traced back to New Orleans. “Something happens there,” explains Medeski via a press release. “There’s something in the air, the water, the food.”

In particular, it was at the late-night sets that go down every year during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that Medeski sought out gigs with Bernard. Eventually, the tandem hooked up with Joseph and Higgins, the rhythm section of the legendary Dirty Dozen Brass Band – whose 1999 record, Buck Jump, Medeski produced.

In addition, John Medeski’s Mad Skillet was recorded in New Orleans, in a studio housed in a Depression-era church across the Mississippi River known as the Living Room. “Every time we play, it really is magical,” says Medeski. “We get together and this thing lifts. It has a life of its own, beyond any of us. There’s a lot of ESP in New Orleans music. There’s a certain belief that New Orleans guys have what you can’t get anywhere.”

“Piri Piri” is one of Medeski’s compositions from the albums. It is a cathartic, open-hearted tribute to his step-daughter with hip, rapid-fire unison lines. Bernard and Joseph also contribute songs of their own to the record, while two of its tracks are spontaneous group compositions presenting an engaging variation on the avant-garde. But more than a collection of songs, John Medeski’s Mad Skillet is about an energy and a city. “The hang before you play is just as important as the session,” Medeski concludes. “You have to really be open to get to that place, to get to that vibration where it’s all coming together.”

Tracklist:

  1. Man About Town
  2. Invincible Bubble
  3. Tuna In A Can
  4. The Golden Lady
  5. Piri Piri
  6. Psychedelic Rhino
  7. Little Miss Piggy
  8. Adele
  9. The Heart Of Soul

John Medeski – keyboards
Will Bernard – guitar
Kirk Joseph – sousaphone
Terence Higgins – drums

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