John Medeski’s Mad Skillet is set to release its self-titled debut album on November 9 via Medeski Martin & Wood’s record label, Indirecto Records. The band is led by influential keyboardist John Medeski and features guitarist Will Bernard, sousaphonist Kirk Joseph and drummer Terence Higgins. But while Medeski’s name is up front, the album reflects a spirit of interplay and equality among the members of the band that, first and foremost, is a product of the city of New Orleans.
Listen to the premiere of “Piri Piri” from John Medeski’s Mad Skillet via the player below:
The inception of John Medeski’s Mad Skillet can be traced back to New Orleans. “Something happens there,” explains Medeski via a press release. “There’s something in the air, the water, the food.” In particular, it was at the late-night sets that go down every year during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that Medeski sought out gigs with Bernard. Eventually, the tandem hooked up with Joseph and Higgins, the rhythm section of the legendary Dirty Dozen Brass Band – whose 1999 record, Buck Jump, Medeski produced.
In addition, John Medeski’s Mad Skillet was recorded in New Orleans, in a studio housed in a Depression-era church across the Mississippi River known as the Living Room. “Every time we play, it really is magical,” says Medeski. “We get together and this thing lifts. It has a life of its own, beyond any of us. There’s a lot of ESP in New Orleans music. There’s a certain belief that New Orleans guys have what you can’t get anywhere.”
“Piri Piri” is one of Medeski’s compositions from the albums. It is a cathartic, open-hearted tribute to his step-daughter with hip, rapid-fire unison lines. Bernard and Joseph also contribute songs of their own to the record, while two of its tracks are spontaneous group compositions presenting an engaging variation on the avant-garde. But more than a collection of songs, John Medeski’s Mad Skillet is about an energy and a city. “The hang before you play is just as important as the session,” Medeski concludes. “You have to really be open to get to that place, to get to that vibration where it’s all coming together.”
John Medeski’s Mad Skillet will embark on a 13-date U.S. tour surrounding the release. The tour will begin with a festival appearance at Utopiafest in Burnet, Texas, on November 2, and include shows throughout the Midwest and Northeast. Click here for more information.
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