Eight years later, a song like "Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho" on the new album, Combustication, demonstrates what makes the band's music sound both intuitive and unexpected. The song opens with Martin's stuttering drum-kit workout, which is joined by a hiccupping low-end bass run by Wood. Medeski then adds a humming Hammond organ and a few scribbles of clavinet. The main melody, a wavering high-end staccato riff on the organ, doesn't arrive until halfway through the piece. What you hear is three guys jamming, for sure, but they know exactly where the piece is headed.

The jump to Blue Note afforded the band a bigger budget and hence more time in the studio. "A lot of the tunes were written in the studio or just improvised while we were rolling tape, and that was the finished product, more or less," Wood says.

Other highlights on the album come courtesy of an instrument rarely employed by jazz trios, a DJ's turntable. After sharing a bill with ex-Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid's new combo, a band with which DJ Logic was performing, MMW invited Logic to sit in with them at a weekly gig at the legendary avant-garde club the Knitting Factory. MMW had been playing the shows "just to improvise," Wood explains, "not to play any of our tunes like we usually do when we tour, but to just get up in an intimate setting and improvise together." To alter their sound and hone their chops a bit, they would invite other musicians to join them, and the most successful collaboration had been with DJ Logic.

DJ performs on three tracks on Combustication. "Start Stop," a slow, head-bobber of a song, demonstrates how the fusion works. Logic sets up a drone in the background, and when Medeski joins in, the two intertwine, making it hard to tell what is sampled and what is played on the organ. Just as Martin brings the song to full tilt, the band stops, Logic keeps a xylophone sample going, and after a five-second pause, the trio comes back in. This cycle is repeated several times until, five minutes into the song, Logic steps up his scratching, looping a vocal part around Wood's bass, creating a creepy effect as the song fades away. DJ Logic doesn't overshadow the band; he's just filling in gaps that a limited number of instruments tends to leave.

"We didn't really give him any direction. He just does what he does, another improviser," Wood says. "We do that same thing live: We don't discuss anything; he just comes and adds his flavor."

Medeski, Martin, and Wood will perform with DJ Logic at Pine Crest School Auditorium, 1501 NE 62nd St., Fort Lauderdale, at 8 p.m. Friday, December 4. Tickets cost $20. For information call 954-492-4105 or 954-492-4128.

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