Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood

Most jazz musicians who try to rock out come off lame. Most rock musicians who dig into jazz sound pathetic. Medeski Martin & Wood have long straddled both camps with authenticity. Or actually "fused" is the better word; in fact, they're among the very few rock-jazzers, another being Miles Davis at the top of that game, who turn "fusion" into a tasty term.

On their latest album, the trio are joined by guitarist John Scofield, not as a sideman (as MMW were on his A Go Go from 1998) but as a fully insinuated member of the band, which is thus called MSMW. The double-disc album's (appealingly insouciant) title is In Case the World Changes Its Mind (on the Indirecto label). It was recorded live at various spots on their 2006 tour. It's the best thing any of them have done, together or apart, in years.

It starts with "A Go Go," Billy Martin's polyrhythmic drums, Chris Wood's anchoring bass, and John Medeski's flittering keyboards setting things up nicely for Scofield's head-swing melody—and the crowds are cheering from the outset.

Some of MMW's albums have tread deeply into howler territory, and this one has its moments there, but mainly it's solid rock-jazz-blues, a dancing-in-your-head thing from start to finish.

Finally, as is often the case with their albums, the sound quality is sensational. It might as well be an audiophile recording, and with exciting music too.

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