EXCLUSIVE The historic jazz label Okeh, soon to be brought back to life by Sony Classical, has signed John Medeski of the jam band trailblazers Medeski, Martin and Wood, for a solo piano release A Different Time recorded on a French period Gaveau piano, an instrument known for its crafted cases manufactured by a company originally founded in the mid-19th century. A Different Time is to be released in March 2013, the label has confirmed. The tracks are: ‘A Different Time’; ‘I’m Falling’; ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’; ‘Ran’; ‘Graveyard Fields’; ‘Luz Marina’; ‘Waiting at the Gate’; ‘Lacrima’; and ‘Otis’.

Medeski, 47, formed MM&W in the early-1990s and got swept up in what became known as the jam band phenomenon, basically a US version of acid jazz, often with Hammond organ leading the swelling youth-friendly grassroots movement as at ease in indie rock clubs and outdoor festivals as it was in jazz spots. MM&W despite sounding like a boutique law firm had a kind of a campervan mentality, and was always on the road, and with other bands embracing psychedelia and challenging the boundaries kept true to its jazz roots making an inspired partnership as the band developed with John Scofield particularly on the record A Go Go.

Medeski has an exciting sound, on the organ in the Jimmy McGriff vein, on piano Oscar Peterson-inspired initially. In more recent years over the past decade Medeski has forged a solo identity or a featured guest with The Word, Trey Anastasio Band, and the great Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead.


Okeh have also signed 45-year-old Dhafer Yousef with a release expected in May 2013. The oud player and singer is recording in the next few weeks, the label has said, and Youssef’s band will be joined by guests Nils Petter Molvaer and Eivind Aarset.

Born in Teboulba, Tunisia in 1967, Youssef is known for his work with Renaud Garcia-Fons, Markus Stockhausen, Carlo Rizzo, Nguyên Lê, Wolfgang Puschnig and Christian Muthspiel, among others, with his music rooted in the Sufi tradition. His earlier acclaimed albums include Divine Shadows, Digital Prophecy, and Electric Sufi, and his music has the ability to embrace both middle eastern classical styles, electronica, and dance grooves within a cutting edge improvising prism.

Stephen Graham

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John Medeski top and Dhafer Youssef, above