Happily, I can now support Medeski, Martin & Wood without reservation—at least for now. Their new album, Tonic, is the group's first acoustic effort, and it's a wholly amazing piece of work. Here, Medeski unleashes stunning piano improvisations atop rock-solid rhythm support without any of the noise and malarkey that marred past releases. Yet the rock & roll energy and audacity remain. On tunes like "Invocation" and "Afrique," the sheer musicality of Medeski's solos are never compromised by his bold atonality—he's like Thelonius Monk pumped up on amphetamines. Medeski, Martin & Wood will play an acoustic show on Thursday, June 8, at the Sun—catch them before they relocate their box of toys and effects pedals.
THE TEMPTATIONS . . . errrr . . . the Temptation appears Friday and Saturday nights at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. See, all those guys are dead now except Otis Williams, who never sang a lead on any of their hit records. But you knew that already—you saw the NBC miniseries and everything, right? The thing about Williams, though, is that he has one fuck of an ear for talent and has been able to replace all his croakin' cronies over the years with singers who don't embarrass themselves when endeavoring to imitate giants like David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. And the Tempts have kept on recording R&B hits right up to the present day (sure, that miniseries didn't hurt business much, either). I've seen the group several times during different eras, and no matter who's been onstage, it has always sounded lovely. Or was it just my imagination running away with me?
Ray Charles plays at the Sun Theatre, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700. Sun., 8 p.m. $58.50; Yellowman performs at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930. Sat., 8 p.m. $19.50; Medeski, Martin & Wood play at the Sun Theatre. Thurs., June 8, 9 p.m. $19.50; the Temptations perform at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $23-$67.