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The Boston Globe

Music

John Medeski finds the keys to a new sound

Typecasting is easy when it comes to John Medeski and the trio of which he’s been a part for more than two decades, Medeski Martin & Wood. Since their adoption by the jam band crowd after performing with Phish in the mid-’90s, the group — keyboardist Medeski, drummer Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood — have sometimes been seen as talented if one-
dimensional purveyors of the
almighty groove. But the fact is, MM&W have always been experimenters of the first order, exploring a wide dynamic range of moods and world-music styles, always maintaining a strong allegiance to their jazz roots. Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, and electric Miles Davis (of the hugely adventurous pre-1980 years) are typical touchstones covered by the band.

But even knowledgeable MM&W fans might be taken aback by Medeski’s latest project, “A Different Time” — a meditative, low-key solo-acoustic-
piano album that includes a
Willie Nelson cover and the traditional gospel tune “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” Released last April, it was the first disc on the revived, legendary Okeh label (on the Sony Masterworks imprint). It’s also Medeski’s first
solo piano album. In support of the album, he’ll play a solo concert as part of the World Music/CRASHarts program at the Institute of Contemporary Art on Thursday.

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