Delivering on a pledge made long ago to make this duet happen, organist John Medeski and drummer Billy Martin two-thirds of the popular trio, Medeski, Martin, and Wood (this exercise is performed minus bassist Chris Wood), set this jazz groove called Mago on fire from the onset.
Boasting almost 20 years since their first musical meeting, this project represents commitment and love for the form of music they’ve adopted as their own. The opener, a free-wheeling piece that takes one everywhere you want to go at once, is only a small piece of the whole and is not even indicative or representative of the powerful imagination of this duet as demonstrated throughout this album which, by the way, took the duo all of 2 days to complete!. The Hammond makes Medski’s trademark clear, bold, and throaty statement with Martin providing that always all-important instrumental soul at the bottom. While I’ve often had difficulty with the more free jazz stuff, "tame" tunes like "Moet" and "Apology" reach down deep and stroke the yearn for that silky, bluesy side of this adventure, while tunes like "Bamboo Pants" and "Bonfa" get to that itch for the booty-shaking jam, Martin & Medeski-style.
While Mago is a celebration of Medeski and Martin’s first meeting and something I understand that they like to do on occasion but just don't get much time to share because of time constraints and the success of the trio, it doesn’t much matter if it’s two or all three of the finest in jazz expression, these guys have the right combination to produce that which will receive great raves everywhere.