Opinions of Chris Wood

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by takemusu, May 6, 2002.

  1. takemusu


    May 6, 2002
    Newbie here, saving up for my first purchase of a DB. I just wanted to pass along the word about my favorite player out there. Chris Wood of Medeski, Martin & Wood is absolutely outstanding. All three are, really, and they push not only the limits of jazz but music in general to breathtaking extremes.

    The trio has acoustic jazz roots and has progressed to their latest album, Uninvisible. Uninvisible features a host of guest musicians including DJs (??), but everything is as tasteful as can be. This album, too, is more atmospheric and focused on mood than the others. The bass plays a larger role in this album as well.

    Chris Wood is known to pull out a Hofner on occasion, so beware DB purists!

    Does anyone else have opinions on Wood / MMW? Curious to know from the more experienced players on this board.
  2. Yeah, I'm pretty fond of Chris Wood's playing. I like the fact that be and B. martin comprise such an interesting rhythm section.Alot of that is probably due to the difference in their playing backgrounds. Actually there are times that I am not that pleased with Medeski, he just gets a little overwhelming for me. Haven't heard their new one yet, I'll go check it out...
  3. All Hail Chris Wood!

    As you might surmise, I'm a bit of a MMW fan. I've loved that group ever since my first listen to Friday Afternoon in the Universe, and Uninvisible has been quite the persistent fixture in my CD player lately.

    At first I wasn't too crazy about Chris' migration to gut DB strings and the Hofner Viola BG, but I've really come around on that sound in a big way.

    IMHO, if you want a great example of ridiculously solid funkyness, check out Shackman, Combustication, and Uninvisible. If you want a great example of his earlier steel-strung sound, check out It's a Jungle in Here, especially his blazing solo on "Syeeda's Song Flute."
  4. If you ever happen to notice that MMW is coming to your town, GO SEE THEM!!!

    I just caught their show at Deep Ellum Live here in Dallas last night, and it blew my mind! Better yet, Chris Wood was absolutely at the top of his game - the standout of the three last night.

    His BG stylings are plenty funky, but his DB playing just amazed me and the rest of the crowd. It was so rewarding to see the way everyone perked up, listened intently, and wildly cheered Chris' wicked ideas and gorgeous tone. IMHO, Wood is one of the premier acolytes at the Mingus altar, but even if his lines don't always echo Mingus, his intensity and attack certainly do.
  5. I can't stand Medeski's playing, but Chris Wood is a badass. Great Mingus-esque tone and some serious rhythmic drive. I'd love to hear him in a straightahead context.
  6. While I generally dig Medeski, he has at times relied too heavily upon the good ole' forearm cluster. There were a couple of times early in the show where I found myself thinking, "OK John, dontcha think it's time for some, like, ideas and stuff?" Of course, no sooner than I had thought that, he laid out some pretty cool stuff. Like I said, Wood was top notch the whole way through.

    Peter, you may want to check out Uninvisible. Wood is very present in the mix; often he seems to be the main voice of the tune, both mix and idea-wise. If you want to check out Wood in a more traditional setting, Notes From the Underground is a straight-ahead acoustic trio album. Although it sounds like it was made when CW was still using steel strings, he's still got a gorgeous sound.
  7. chris woood is a great musician, though i do feel that doubling on a high level, detracts from one or the other or both.
    he seems to have strong chops on both, but it seems to also keep him form being a peer of david holland, mark dresser , etc. also mmw is certainly a good group, but very comercial, it's good music but not pushing any boundries. if you want to hear double bass players who push the envelope try: william parker, barry guy, peter kowald and joelle leandre to start with.
  8. "Ohh, that's a paddlin'."
  9. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    newmusicbass, I don't think MMW is commercial sounding? Can you explain what you mean? One thing I do know is that their shows are packed with hippies to the point that I almost passed out from the Patchoulie and armpit stench last time I went.
  10. That's what I don't like about MMW--it's pseudo-jazz for dirty hippies and rich potheads. There's only so much you can do with one-chord vamps. It's sad, because they're all very talented jazz players, but MMW is better IMO if you aren't actually listening to it. It's great music for smoking up and expounding about freeing Mumia.
  11. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    i think chris wood is an excellent player and like all the stuff he does, even when he plays with the slide on his electric bass, but to really hear him get crazy with that you have to hear or see it live, much longer live.

    i also dislike most of the people that are down with the "jambands" that go to the mmw shows, i think that is what is meant by saying they are too commercial...

    if you want to here them play more jazz type material check out "it's a jungle in here", "notes from the underground" and especially "tonic" which is live material selected from a few day run of live shows played at tonic in new york city
    they also do alot of good jazz songs live too, many ellington compositions, and some others
  12. well, funky grooves are comercial. period. im not saying its not ok to like it. but its like sugar or macdonalds, i taste good, but don't think it's something more. we all "love" funky 4/4 playing. there no risk at all, no matter what you put on top. while we are on the subject, what mmw put on top is VERY watered down free jazz and experimental ideas. chances are if you like mmw, you really don't want to hear ground breaking music! but, try searching: anthony braxton, evan parker, cecil taylor, peter brötzmann or go to my site http://www.balancepointacoustics.com and check out the links, if you really do want to know about ground breaking jazz related music.
    but ground breaking isn't everything, listen to what you want!
    damon smith
  13. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    hey newmusicbass
    i haven't checked out any of those people you say are ground breaking, but i will definately.

    if you want to hear mmw playing their all out jazz type stuff then you SHOULD ABSOLUTELY check out their tonic album, i assume you don't have that one based upon your opinion of their "VERY watered down free jazz and experimental ideas" some really good compositions, and ideas on that one for sure, i like their acoustic stuff the best and really wish i could have seen one of the shows from that tour.

    i also disagree that if you listen to mmw then you don't want to hear ground breaking music, have you heard "The Dropper", i think that one is quite ground breaking and experimental, as well as far from watered down.

    it really sounds to me like you have probably heard combustication, shackman, and/or friday afternoon in the universe(which by the way are their most "commercial" albums), and you assume all their stuff sounds the same, i must say that each and every one of their albums has a different feel or direction to it.

    oh yeah who here has heard "farmer's reserve" i believe you can only order it off their site, but for the price it is well worth it, it is crazy, i'll leave it at that for now.
  14. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Good one, newmusicbass. I remember getting stuck in the fusion hoopla for awhile, when almost nobody was hiring upright players and basses were cheap. Fortunately, I bought Cecil Taylor's "Silent Tongues", the live solo disc on the REALLY out of tune piano. Happily, that record spun my head back around in the proper direction and got me back on course.
  15. I agree on the fact that MMW is not "ground breaking," but SO WHAT! They play music that they enjoy playing and people enjoy listening to. I am personally rather bored with this idea that everything "good" needs to break some ground. Likewise your worth as a musician being lesser if you don't like "ground breaking" music. It seems to me that the focus of music and art in general gets lost if all you worry about is being ground breaking. To me music is about expressing what you see/feel/hear, if that ends up being ground breaking, so be it, but to say it's nothing special when people do the music they love and manage to communicate that to others is foolish.
    I have listened to William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Dewey Redmen and don't find that much of it enjoyable, while I think they are fantastic musicians and powerful artists it doesn't strike me as an expression of love. I could be wrong on this, I have never read any interviews, or spoken to these people myself.
    I think the reason we have Brittney Spears, and Back Street boys making millions while people who play America's art music (jazz) can barely pay rent is due to lack of purity in music. Coltrane broke new ground, Miles broke new ground, Bird did it too, but they did it for the love of what they do and it shows.
    That's my opinion. Do what you love, listen to what you love and don't worry about "ground breaking" or not!
    Just shut up and play!
  16. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Hey, bro, don't hold back -- how do you really feel!

    There are explorers and there are cartographers. They both do valuable work. You can even change your mind (or your role) if you want!
  17. Or, as my boss said today, "The pathfinder is the guy with the most arrows stuck in him."
  18. well, i did say listen to what you want, and ground breaking is not everything, but it's not productive to listen to mmw and think you are hearing something extreme or ground breaking. i have heard tonic and dropper, they both watered down. this is like eat fries and a big mac and thinking you are eating a heathy meal. goto:http://www.cadencebuilding.com
    order "celibrated blazons"
    or "the feel trio" by cecil taylor, both on the fmp label. this is real hardcore ground breaking piano trio music. though if you like mmw you probably wont enjoy it!
    which brings me to my next point: dewey redmond, william parker and matt shipp are not making music for the purposes of your enjoyment, (enlightenment maybe). but, mmw are!
    this is an important division.
    are mmw great muicians? yes. do i feel they alter their music for financial purposes? yes. do they play better than almost anyone else who does this? yes. is chris wood a more acomlished bassist and musician than i am? yes.
    damon smith
  19. though if you like mmw you probably wont enjoy it!

    I really didn't want to go off on an angry rant, but quotes like the one above really get to me. They come off as pompus, it puts people off to any serious music. This is something I am very familiar with living in NYC, I call it being "hipper than thou." Everyone is entitled to their opinion, it's what makes the world great, but you shouldn't be too proud of it. To some people, MMW are ground breaking, maybe it's the first time they have heard anything like that, maybe they would be into some of the other music you suggested, and maybe they are put off by your comments.

  20. i know for one thing willaim parkers music does happen to be about love and compassion. though there are quite a few other valid emotions not to mention things besides emotion to be expressed. it's unfortunate to hear someone so onesided that they can only appreciate exppressions of love. that's almost as childish as the jazznazi's who use "swing" as
    as definition of quality music.
    it would be also important to point out that part of the roots of free jazz are in the radical black civil rights movment. though it is difficult to find much love there, i think there is plenty of valid and intense emotions. but,hey man, hit the bong and listen to the smooth grooves brah, every thing's cool...
    damon smith