Todd Clouser Concludes Icehouse Residency, Debuts New Music with John Medeski and Greg Schutte

Todd Clouser
Photo; Jennifer Simonson/MPR

Monday Night Saw Todd Clouser close out his month-long residency at Icehouse. As part of the venue’s Monday Night Jazz series, The Mexico City-based guitarist put together four great shows, spotlighting musicians from a variety of styles and backgrounds from the Twin Cities and beyond. For Monday night’s closing set, Clouser played as part of a trio with famed Keyboardist/Organist John Medeski, and standout drummer Greg Schutte.

The set was notable not only for the collective clout of the musicians involved but because most of the music played was new. On occasion, or with lesser musicians, this might not be an entirely good thing. New music, by definition, is unfamiliar to the audience and, to a lesser extent, band members themselves.

Sometimes this leads to sloppier than usual play, other times it leads to an audience that might be less engaged than they would be if they knew the songs. Neither of these were the case during Clouser & Co.’s set on Monday. The playing, across the board, was more than high-quality, with the music adding up to more than the sum of the three elite parts.

Though they’re all accomplished players, Medeski is the biggest name of the group. One-third of popular jazz/funk trio Medeski, Martin and Wood, Medeski has a well-established reputation as an elite player. During Monday’s set, Medeski stuck, for the most part, to the organ. His prowess was on display early as he wasted no time ripping through virtuosic solos. He looked to have complete command over the set, and to watch was a real treat.

The other two were equally talented. Schutte, known for his work with Clouser, Ryan Bingham and more, had an unpredictable quality to his playing — you never knew where he was going next, yet he held the show together the whole time. He, and the whole band really, navigated the sophisticated arrangements with skill and dexterity, putting on a boundary-pushing show that also managed to be accessible.

Blending funk, rock, jazz, and more the way the trio did on Monday is no small feat. Making it even more impressive is the fact that, though the members have collaborated in various projects over the years, they’ve rarely played together in this trio setting. Given what they achieved during their performance, let’s hope they do it again soon.

Written by Aaron Williams


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