Medeski, Martin & Wood
A jazz ensemble that can get a concert crowd dancing? That may seem unlikely, but the self-described "groove music" trio Medeski, Martin & Wood has been doing just that for the past nine years of steady touring. It's also been cranking out album after album. Combining funk, hip-hop, blues, rock and avant-garde music, keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood offer their fans plenty of experimental live numbers, and have just released their latest album, "Tonic," a live acoustic set.
Maceo Parker likes it funky. After years of serving as the saxophonist and band leader for James Brown and George Clinton, that's to be expected. But now, as a successful solo artist, he continues to push the limits of funk, jazz and R&B. His latest album, "Dial M-A-C-E-O," marries his distinctive groovy sounds with rousing horn-playing, and features songs with Ani DiFranco, Prince and James Taylor.
David Grisman Quintet
You could call David Grisman a pioneer. For two decades he has been playing his own style of music, called "dawg" - a blend of swing, bluegrass, Latin, jazz and Gypsy sounds - and with it, the mandolinist and his band have inspired a genre of acoustic string instrumental music. Through his own record company, Acoustic Disc, Grisman has recently released "Retrograss," an album of familiar bluegrass songs in old-time, ragtime, string-band fashion with collaborators John Hartford and Mike Seeger. In addition to Grisman, the current quintet lineup features Jim Kerwin on bass, Joe Craven on acoustic percussion and violin, Enrique Coria on guitar and Matt Eakle on flute.
Jazz Mandolin Project
The name speaks for itself. The Jazz Mandolin Project takes the mandolin in new and unusual directions. Fronted by mandolinist Jamie Masefield, the group is renowned for its jam band, improvisational, unorthodox style. Its latest album, "Xenoblast," is an adventurous mix of lengthy, cutting-edge jazz tunes that venture into rock and blues.
Lake Trout knows how to captivate an audience. The Baltimore band has devised its own sound, dubbed "organica," a sophisticated yet danceable groove. Formed initially as a jazz ensemble, the group continues to evolve - reshaping its sound and experimenting instrumentally in its improvisational, free-form live shows. Its latest album, "Alone at Last," a live recording, is grounded in its jazz, rock and pop roots. The band's members are James Griffith, bass; Ed Harris, guitar; Mike Lowry, drums; Woody Ranere, guitar and vocals; and Matt Pierce, sax, flute, electric piano and drum machine.