Over the course of 21 years, Medeski Martin & Wood have forged an indelible chemistry on the bandstand that's fueled countless concerts around the world, as well as, 18 cutting-edge albums. Last year the innovative trio celebrated their longevity with 20, a collection of new songs plus previously unrecorded older material spanning two decades as a groundbreaking force in jazz. Now for its latest release, MMW dips into its archives to present Free Magic, a collection of recordings from their first-ever acoustic tour in 2007. Released September 25 on the band's own label, Indirecto Records, the set captures the three intrepid improvisers - keyboardist John Medeski, bassist Chris Wood, drummer Billy Martin - stretching out in concert over five expansive tracks, demonstrating the near-telepathic hookup and deep groove sensibilities that have defined MMW since its inception in 1991; albeit in the more chamber-like setting of an acoustic piano trio.
"There's a rhythmic and sonic connection that we have," says Martin of his MMW colleagues. "Listening is the most important thing for us. We're having a conversation when we're playing. And the dynamic range is much greater in the acoustic setting. When we play electric, everything is turned up to 11 and it's screaming. But with John on piano and Chris on upright, we can play with a much more nuanced touch. My percussion starts to come into play more and the other guys are hearing tonality from me and they can jump on that. It's a very different world and I love it."