Spectrum Road is one of those bands where you look at the lineup and your jaw drops. Try Jack Bruce (Cream) on bass, Vernon Reid (Living Colour) on guitar, Tony Williams protégé Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz, Santana) and keyboardist John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood).
Medeski is an inspired keyboard player who had an early start – he was playing by the age of five. And, according to Wikipedia, Medeski’s early interest in playing improvised music came from listening to Oscar Peterson.
Tiny Canadian connections aside, we’re fans of Medeski because his music frequently lives up to his own declaration about what music should do, shared at the Medeski Martin & Wood website:
“Music is about creating a vibration, an energy. It’s healing and transformative.”
Medeski took time out of a busy touring schedule to share some of the music that creates that vibration and energy for him, and for that we are grateful – it's a truly eclectic, far-ranging playlist.
1) "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" and "I Was Made to Love Her," Stevie Wonder, Live At the Talk of the Town
"Live Stevie with Michael Henderson on bass before he was snatched up by Miles. The bass playing is over the top and so is Stevie's clavinet solo on 'Shoo-Be-Doo,' featuring a great bass and clav conversation."
This version of "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" is from a live 1968 performance:
2) "Alto Bung'o Horn," Kenya and Tanzania Witchcraft & Ritual Music
"One of my favourite records as a kid. It was the first African album I ever had. I just got the CD after all these years. This :45 second track is so inspiring to me for some reason. The sound of the horn is incredible, the melody so beautiful and strong. I probably listen to it 15-20 times in a row every time it pops up."
3) "Bad Situation," 5 Spiritual Tones
"Funky gospel. Seriously laying down the funk for the Lord."
4) "Mirrors Tell Lies," Bootsy Collins featuring Jimi Hendrix, Tha Funk Capitol of the World
"Bootsy's latest is great. This tune is classic Collins with brilliant inspiring words from Hendrix. Collins is showing us how what Hendrix was talking about is still applicable today. Hard to believe."
5) "Mbira Spirit Ceremony," Forward Kwenda
"Really beautiful thumb piano music."
This is Forward Kwenda playing in 1998:
6) "Born Dead," J.B. Lenoir, Passionate Blues
"J.B. Lenoir has one of my favourite voices. So sweet. This tune is rough, really rips your heart out."
7) "Toura Toura Tour Kelilah," Gnawa Music of Marrakesh: Night Spirit Masters
"I can never get enough Gnawa music."
8) "Across the Lake of the Ancient World," Terry Riley, Shri Camel
"I just really discovered Terry Riley. I've check out his music before, but it finally hit me. The tuning and sounds on this record are fantastic!"
John Medeski and Spectrum Road Canadian tour dates, summer 2012:
June 25, TD International Vancouver Jazz Festival
June 27, TD Toronto Jazz Festival
June 28, Montreal International Jazz Festival
SPF '12: Summer preview of jazz and world music festivals
Bill Frisell’s ‘what inspires me’ playlist
Robert Glasper’s ‘what inspires me’ playlist
on Jun 25, 2012