John Medeski John Medeski's Mad Skillet (Indirecto Records)
Hudson Valley keyboard virtuoso John Medeski brings some New Orleans flavor with his Mad Skillet band, resulting in a gumbo as hot and thick as an August afternoon on the Delta. Joined by guitarist Will Bernard and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band rhythm section of Kirk Joseph on sousaphone and Terence Higgins on drums, Mad Skillet uses a second-line template to weave together a surprising array of musical styles. The gravitational pull of breathy bass notes undergird Higgins's dramatic, percussive flair; Bernard's alternately dirty and lustrously reverberated guitar; and Medeski's literally dizzying array of keyboards and their resultant textures. Those range from piquant melodica soaring over the dub-meets-Spaghetti Western elan of Joseph's "Adele" to the lysergic, proggy Mellotron limning the brilliant corners of "Psychedelic Rhino." The Crescent City provides a portal to other worlds in Mad Skillet—buy the ticket, take the ride.