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Medeski Martin and Wood Prove Their Hip Quotient at CMJ

November 1, 2006 6:01 PM ET

Say what you will about jam bands, you gotta give Medeski Martin and Wood props. What other group can get a room full of people to dance to freakin' keyboard jazz? MMW did just that when the costumed threesome returned to New York's Hammerstein Ballroom for their annual Halloween bash, one of the best gigs they play all year.

The band warmed things up with some ambient dub explorations before kicking into high gear with tunes that showed off drummer Billy Martin's ass-shaking grooves and John Medeski's maniacal organ and clavinet attacks. The group's special guest, guitarist Dave Tronzo, breathed new life into the jazz-funk staples they've been playing live forever.

Tronzo and Medeski thrilled the audience on fan favorites like the gospel-style rave up "Think" and "Is There Anybody Here That Loves My Jesus?" Everyone cheered when someone tossed out a huge handful of raver glowsticks, and when jams got a bit too noodly, revelers dressed as Borat, and the Super Mario Brothers offered a welcome diversion. We can't wait til next year.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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