M & M's (Medeski, Moore, Mercurio & Mali) 5.10.14
Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (OptiMystic Outlooks)
Fox Street All Stars were next on the bill, and brought their signature sound to the stage. Somewhere between the Allman Brothers and the E-street Band, their songwriting was as strong as their chops. Front man "Skippy" Hubbard was surrounded by strong players, my favorite of which was guitarist James Dumm. His solos ranged from psychedelic to aggressive, always adding to the whole. By the time the band closed their set with "Sneaking Sally Through the Alley" and Pharrell's "Happy," the smiling crowd was getting anxious to see the main event.
As the show went on, the organ work of Medeski began to stand out more and more. I have always enjoyed watching jazz or classical musicians tackle popular music. Their insights, angles, and musical perspective have often led to remarkable performances. Collaborations such as John Scofield playing with Phil Lesh and Friends or Bela Fleck with Phish, have led to some of my favorite musical moments. Likewise, Medeski and company tearing into "Eminence Front" by The Who was a treat. Definitely my personal highlight for the evening, this version was ballsy, loud, and precise. Mali nearly recreated Townsend's monster guitar work, and Medeski nailed the keys. No surprise.
This well-integrated, balanced, respectful musical relationship among an exceedingly talented set of artists was a pleasure to watch. We closed our tabs before stepping from the sweat box out into the drizzling rain. We jockeyed for real estate to snag a cab. Then, hip hop beats and a ride through the Blake Street bar circus home... just another night of sweet, sweet, music in the Mile High.