Apparently, Chris Wood wasn’t content to routinely drop jaws and confound skeptics with his insurmountable Jazz bass skills, as evidenced by his stellar track record with Medeski, Martin & Wood. Back in 2004, Chris and his guitarist/vocalist brother Oliver decided to join forces in the aptly christened Wood Brothers to reintegrate their divergent musical paths.
The Woods grew up in Boulder, Colo., where they gained an appreciation for the Blues and rootsy American authenticity. Oliver pursued that end of the musical spectrum in Atlanta, while Chris studied Jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music before a move to New York. Oliver joined forces with noted Blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis, who encouraged him to sing, which ultimately led to the formation of King Johnson, a Blues-laced R&B/Country/Funk outfit. In the meantime, Chris joined up with John Medeski and Billy Martin as MM&W, finding a certain level of mainstream acceptance for their Avant/Fusion explorations.
Ten years ago, King Johnson opened a North Carolina show for MM&W, after which Oliver sat in with the headliners. The brief live collaboration brought Chris to the realization that he and his brother should be playing together and in short order the pair recorded demos based on their early loves (with Chris’ Jazz sensibilities drifting into the proceedings) and secured a label deal with renowned Blue Note Records.
Over the past decade, the Wood Brothers (which also features Jano Rix on a variety of instruments) have recorded two live albums, an EP and five studio records, including last year’s acclaimed The Muse, their fourth release for the Southern Ground label (founded by Zac Brown). The Buddy Miller-produced work also represented the Woods’ first album together since becoming an official Nashville, Tenn., band; Oliver moved to Music City after the release of 2011’s Smoke Ring Halos and Chris followed shortly thereafter. The Muse may represent the best hybrid to date of Oliver’s Americana/Blues passion and Chris’ groove-laden Jazz tendencies, but there’s little doubt that the brothers Wood have a good many Rock/Soul/Jazz/Roll tigers left in that particular tank.
THE WOOD BROTHERS play at 20th Century Theater Monday, Sept. 29. Find tickets/more info here .