But last night I gave Woodstock Sessions another shot, while returning home on a late Saturday evening hour-long drive along country roads, when there was no rush to be anywhere and all one has to be concerned with is stray deer - which there were plenty of. The album worked much better as the soundtrack to such an endeavor. What was once noise now became sublime.
Woodstock Sessions Vol. 2 (where's Vol. 1?) was recorded live on August 27, 2013 at Applehead Studios in Woodstock, NY in front of an intimate audience, but it is edited in such a way so that you don't really hear it as a "live album". Medeski, Martin and Wood are joined by consumate guitarist Nels Cline of Wilco fame, and this addition inspires sort of a bizzarro version of Medeski, Martin, Scofield and Wood.
I've only listened to the album that one time not 12 hours ago, but I interpreted it as four engaged soloists with a deep-seated understanding of music allowing their collective abilities to arrive in any territories "the now" deemed pertinent. Medeski, Martin and Wood have a reputation of being groovemeisters, but anyone who has seen them live knows that - while true - they also spend almost as much time channeling shamanic visions that have more to do with anthropology than chord changes.
The addition of Cline takes that a step farther. The groove is definitely still there, but it's subliminally hiding out under a blanket of sound with little intention of showing its face. Rather than play to the whims of an audience and go in a direction that might dictate, MMW + Cline shake off those surface level inclinations continually in search of deeper layers. As a result, your're not really listening to John, Billy, Chris and Nels as individuals, but rather as a greater-good celestial music mind.
That's what it sounded like to me at least. You be your own judge. And remember to eat lots of fish; it'll help you with your scales.