John Medeski may be a keyboardist from New York City, but his latest recording is all New Orleans. Together with guitarist Will Bernard, plus Dirty Dozen Brass Band sousaphonist Kirk Joseph and drummer Terence Higgins, John Medeski is formally introducing the world to his new quartet, Mad Skillet.
Plenty of music fans have already witnessed Mad Skillet at work. The band has performed late-night sets during Jazz Fest season for several years, but Medeski says “after so many magical performances, it felt like something needed to get out there on an album. Mad Skillet was born in NOLA—half the band is from there. I’ve wanted to do something with Kirk Joseph and Terence Higgins ever since I worked with them on the Dirty Dozen album Buck Jump in 1999. With the addition of Will Bernard, the band has evolved out of the Jazz Fest scene into a touring and recording entity.”
Though he lends his name to the band’s name, Medeski is adamant about the value his respective co-members contribute. “The individual personalities and styles of the musicians come together to create something that is beyond what any one of us would do on our own,” he says. “Each musician in this band is a great player, composer and bandleader so when we create music together, everyone is thinking about the big picture, or the sound as a whole. Having musicians with this kind of sensibility is vital to playing music that has a great deal of improvisation.”
The four will release an eponymous album via Medeski Martin & Wood’s Indirecto Records. Today (October 10), John Medeski’s Mad Skillet premieres the Kirk Joseph-written “Adele,” a song the crew has been playing together since their first gig. “It was easy to get it happening in the studio—I don’t think we did more than two takes. We went for a soundtrack vibe on this with the melodica and a lot of reverb and delay. I told our mixing engineer, Scotty Hard, ‘give it a little Ennio Morricone.'”
The band is kicking off an inaugural U.S. tour next month.