Medeski Martin & Wood

End of the World Party (Just in Case) (Blue Note)

Except for the groupies and free weed, Medeski Martin & Wood could probably give two shits about the jam scene. Sure, MMW has collaborated with Phish, and the trio's instrumental, semi-improv sound has been embraced by the hippie masses. But its music has always been steeped in smooth '70s fusion and the Hammond-smeared soul jazz of the late '60s. End of the World Party proves it: Although there's definitely some funky jamming going on, it's way more subdued and minimal than your average hemp-fueled noodling. So minimal, in fact, that the album barely stays lodged in the consciousness. Stripped down to the point of invisibility, not even something as radically innovative as corny Space Invaders beeps can draw attention to the group's empty, if virtuosic, groove. While End is unassuming when compared to the usual excesses of jam music, maybe the disc should assume a little more -- like, for instance, that its listeners might not want to be bored out of their fucking skulls.

 
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