Music » Livewire

Medeski, Martin & Wood

Thursday, July 8, at the Odeon.

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Countless jam bands owe their careers to Medeski, Martin & Wood, the avant-jazz trio who made it cool to groove again with 1996's Shack Man, a Hammond-hammered Phish-lot mainstay that opened the door for instrumental improv groups like Soulive and Particle.

In the years since, the threesome has plugged up other holes with a free-jazz edge on The Dropper (and drummer Billy Martin's wild solo work) and the hip-hop-influenced bop on Combustication. But 2002's Uninvisible returned the band to its funky roots, to the pleasure of dance fans sick of watching John Medeski's loose freakouts and the disappointment of jazz snobs hoping that the increasingly popular band would be opening more doors for new fans.

Though the band's on an amphitheater tour this summer (with unlikely headliners 311 and the Roots), it'll take time out for a show of its own at the Odeon this Thursday. Live, there's always room for MMW's wilder side, whether it's in all-acoustic jazz sets, unusual covers (the trio absolutely destroys Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic"), or a percussive outburst from Martin, long the band's ace in the hole. When they fall into a groove, though, it's time to watch out; their success is due as much to their experimentation as it is to finding a pocket and running with it.

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