To call the Word a jam-band supergroup is to suggest how malleable and diverse the jam-band field can be. The instrumental quintet is one part jazz (organist John Medeski, of Medeski, Martin, and Wood), one part "sacred steel" gospel (steel guitar player Robert Randolph), and three parts Memphis blues (guitarist Luther Dickinson, his drummer brother, Cody, and bassist Chris Chew, all of the North Mississippi Allstars). The Word is all about the groove, with Randolph often taking the lead but with Medeski and Luther Dickinson sharing funky, gritty, and joyful ideas: musicians with chops having lots of fun. At least that's the way it was on their sole album, from 2000. These guys are too busy leading their own bands to reconvene often, so Wednesday's TLA show is a rare treat.
- Steve Klinge
Having coalesced in the wake of cult dance-punk act Death From Above 1979, the Toronto duo MSTRKRFT tap into a much more populist and unabashedly electronic sound. In fact, last March's major-label debut,
Fist of God
, exploited guest turns from R&B and rap mainstays, including Ghostface Killah, Lil' Mo, and Philly's own Freeway and John Legend. Otherwise, the instrumental "1000 Cigarettes" and the Daft Punk-damaged title track remain super-size examples of the choppy party jams that rule our age. On stage you'll find MSTRKRFT bent over laptops, synths, and sequencers, but that's not the point. This is dance music distilled from the best bits of past trends, arriving at a sort of bubblegum ecstasy.
- Doug Wallen
Even though she's from elsewhere (the Atlanta/Columbus, Ga., area), Jean Carne has long been one of Philly's finest singers. A vocalist with a several-octave range (and sometimes no "e" at the end of her name), she sang on fusion jazz records with then-husband, Doug Carn, and also with Norman Connors and Earth, Wind & Fire. Once she landed with Philadelphia International Records in 1976, however, Carne found her spiritual home. The mix of disco, quiet-storm R&B, and Dexter Wansel-enhanced jazz Carne created under the Gamble and Huff umbrella are some of Philly soul's finest - if not always heralded - moments. By the mid-'80s she had signed with Philly-area Omni Records, where she recorded synth-y hits with Nick Martinelli before landing at Place One Entertainment for a spell. A recent reminder of Carne's vocal prowess can be heard in the dramatic disco of "Was That All It Was" on the soundtrack of Lee Daniels'
- A.D. Amorosi