Avant-garde jazz trio Medeski Martin and Wood challenged many at the half-full HOB to describe its indescribable music. Is it jazz, electronica, fusion, jam band? Nevertheless, fans welcomed the opening improvisatory quest for a groove, which finally morphed into the funky "Sweet Pea Dreams." By the time John Medeski stepped away from his keyboard arsenal to blow on his part-hookah blow organ, the band had blasted into its experimental aural universe. Billy Martin fired away on his own cache of ammo -- a humble drum kit and multiethnic percussive devices -- and delivered a healthy drum solo following "Big Time." The one-hour set ended on a high note, "Amber Gris," one of the band's best-received tunes.

The second set seemed more accessible and grounded in traditional jazz than the experimental first half, as it built deliberately through various invocations to the groove. Chris Wood rotated from stand up bass to electric guitars, shining throughout his solos. The set climaxed with the raucous, uplifting "Cloud Wars" to end the set and then encore "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," which continued the good-time vibe.

  • Concert: Medeski Martin and Wood
  • Show date: February 17
  • Venue: San Diego House of Blues
  • Seats: General

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