Tuesday, March 22, 2011

John Medeski and Lee Shaw "Together Again" Live

Lee Shaw gets into her 84th year with a flair. Her live European CD we covered several days ago (see below). Today it's a CD of her trio (Rich Syracuse, Jeff "Siege" Siegel) plus her former student John Medeski live at the Egg in Albany, Together Again (ARC 2222).

Lee sticks to her piano while John goes from piano to melodica to Hammond. The new edition of the Smithsonian jazz anthology includes a Medeski, Martin and Wood cut, so in many ways John has arrived. Fully.

The album has a more contemporary, somewhat more adventurous program than the companion Shaw album Live at Art Gallery Reutlingen mentioned above. That one bopped and got into some standards; this one has more progressive pieces, with writing duties divided equally between Ms. Shaw and Mr. Medeski. The approach is looser, free-er, and the two keyboard interplay is quite involved and very pleasurable to hear. Jeff Seigel's drums are out front and quietly burning in ways one comes to expect from him; Rich S. lays down a very fundamental and swinging bass. But it's the dialog of keyboard and keyboard, student and teacher together again, this time as equals, that unfolds very productively.

It's the piano and Hammond combination that to me has the most interesting sound world going on, especially on Lee Shaw's very memorable piece "Blues 11." It stands out both as a composition and as a great showcase for Rich S.'s solo bass, then John's advanced Hammondizing. Jazz radio should play it. I would.

Together Again has much going for it. Intricate two-key interplay, great material, a cohesive, excellent quartet feeling, and a loving reunion between two masters. It's some beautiful Lee Shaw; it's some great John Medeski. Seek and find.

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