Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Funky electric jazz trio lights up Patten

In the middle of a 90-minute jam session Thursday night, Luis Marquez sprinted out of Patten Gym.

“I’m full of music,” said Marquez, who traveled from Peloit, Wisc., to see Medeski Martin & Wood with a group of friends. “The music’s good but it’s too much. It’s at a stronger speed. If I exercised, maybe my heart could handle it.”

Marquez was one of more than 1,550 people attending Spring Ball 2001, a free concert sponsored by A&O Productions.

What sounded like random noise swirled into funky grooves, swinging reggae and blues when the trio took the stage after Sound Tribe Sector 9, the opening band.

“They’re really good,” Michael Gaertner, a junior at Winnetka’s New Trier High School, said about MMW. “Each individual person is a unique band. Together, they feed off each other”

“The rhythm-and-grooves beat they play sounds like the way your heart beats. They really make you feel the music.”

The group is a jazz trio of drums, bass and keyboard, with a heavy emphasis on groove and vibe. The avant-electric-jazz-hip-hop hybrid has received critical acclaim for their new album, “Tonic,” a collection of live recordings from recent tours.

“We’re going to be in Michigan on Saturday to see them play,” said Jim Brau, who drove from Ohio to hear the concert. “The keyboarder can rock … like no other. They play damn good music. It’s a kind of a spacey jazz.”

West Coast-based Sound Tribe Sector 9 opened for the trio with a smooth melodic bass guitar introduction.

The sound of vibrating instruments filled Patten for more than an hour with no energetic bursts, no solos and no lyrics. On a stage filled with instruments ranging from drums to electric guitars, the band created a psychedelic techno-rave atmosphere aided by a hexagonal backdrop that pictured the surging colors of the rainbow.

“They make me want to move,” said Michelle Murphy of Naperville. “They make me want to dance. They put you in kind of a trance and in high spirits where everyone’s in a groove.”

Following a 90-minute session that had about four distinctive songs, the band left the stage. During the intermission, about 100 people arrived to see the main act.

“(MMW) plays a style of jazz that’s their own,” said Bob Weaver of Chicago. “(Northwestern) is doing a great thing. You get to see a great band for free and nobody knows about it.”

With Billy Martin beating on the drums, John Medeski playing the organ and piano, and Chris Wood striking the bass guitar, the trio launched into their first song with the audience banging their heads and dancing.

“I’m impressed,” said Jeff Slavin, a McCormick freshman. “To me the music gets weirder and weirder. It changes a lot. They started to surprise me when it started to get different.”

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Funky electric jazz trio lights up Patten