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Wood Brothers Make Music a Family Affair


Two years ago, Chris Wood of the alternative jazz trio called Medeski, Martin and Wood decided to do something different. Play music again with his brother Oliver. You know where we're going here, The Wood Brothers now have an album called Ways Not To Lose. Our critic Tom Moon has this review.

TOM MOON reporting:

This is a story about two brothers who took a long, long time to start making music together. When they were kids Oliver Wood taught his younger brother Chris how to play the bass. But it was Chris who hit the big time first as part of the influential groove music trio Medeski, Martin and Wood. Two years ago Oliver, the older brother who plays guitar and sings, sat in with Chris's band and something clicked.

Mr. CHRIS WOOD (Musician): (Singing) Hallujah, well I just woke up from a dream so far away. And it's no accident I landed here, out wide open and seeing clear. I have come a long, long way.

MOON: The next time the family got together the brothers went off to jam. Chris lent Oliver his national steel guitar and they wrote this song.

Mr. WOOD: (Singing) I've been tried and tempted. Tried and tempted. Tried and tempted and it's hard to be strong when your tried and tempted too long. Well it's hard to be strong when you're tried and you're tempted too long.

MOON: Pretty soon the Wood Brothers had stumbled on a slightly exotic signature. This was groove music with just a touch of message or a pinch of blues philosophy.

Mr. WOOD: (Singing) Sitting in the front seat, good girl in my arms. Smiling in my eyes, getting me all hypnotized. And that's a good enough reason to live. Good enough reason to live. If I die young least I got some chocolate on my tongue.

MOON: The songs are all stone simple. Updates of blues and gospel and other root styles. Check out the way the Wood Brothers revitalized old New Orleans Rum Boogie on a song called One More Day.

(Soundbite of song One More Day):

Mr. WOOD: (Singing) Well I've seen you in a sadness. I've seen you when you'd hoped to die. I heard you say, well it's raining all over the world. But what did I tell you? What did I say? Just when you think that's gone, give it one more day.

MOON: There's some serious brotherly telepathy going on, and nothing clutters it up because often the music comes just from Chris Wood's beefy acoustic bass and Oliver's steel bodied guitar. Every sound is part of the rhythm, and every sound is part of the melody. Oliver says the project has been a dream come true and as these two brothers cruise along dropping the exact right notes into the exact right spots, it's easy to hear why.


The CD from the Wood Brothers is titled Ways Not To Lose. Our critic, Tom Moon, is a contributor to Rolling Stone Magazine.

Mr. WOOD: (Singing) The truth of the light. The truth of the light. It hurts sometimes, but that saying's still right. The truth of the light. My bird's going to sing, my bird's going to sing and I don't care if you cut his wings. My bird's gonna sing. The truth of the light, the truth of the light. It hurts sometimes but that saying's still right.


You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.