Metalwood Live

If you think Medeski, Martin & Wood sound frantic because they lack a saxophone player, then the mellower funk-fusion of Canada’s Metalwood will suit your groove. It’s great to hear Mike Murley blow in a roots outfit like this, from sweet soprano solos in ballads like “U” and “Eulogy,” to the vocal abandon of “Who’s Bob?” The engine house of this quartet is the rhythmic core of Froman, Tarry and Turner. Their vibrant interplay drives “5 Minute Margin,” the dense rock riff “Hillcrest,” the floating stop-start suspense of “Mr. Jack” and “Lateral,” with exciting unison lines shared by Murley and keyboard player Brad Turner’s brash trumpet. Live ends with an unlisted bonus track, a duo chase version of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” for saxophone and trumpet. Generally, I’m either indifferent or scathing about most mainstream fusion releases but this live set reaffirms the faith. (Maximum Jazz)