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Combustication is a jazzed-up synonym of the word combustion. It was coined in 1969 by the popular physics demonstrator Julius Sumner Miller in his television show Demonstrations in Physics.

Combustication is also the sixth release by the jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood (their previous offering, Farmer's Reserve was at first only available online or at one of their concerts).

track listing:

  1. Sugar Craft* – 3:22
  2. Just Like I Pictured It – 3:27
  3. Start·Stop* – 6:39
  4. Nocturne – 4:02
  5. Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho – 3:15
  6. Whatever Happened to Gus (MMW, Cannon) – 4:26
  7. Latin Shuffle – 9:05
  8. Everyday People (Sly Stone) – 5:27
  9. Coconut Boogaloo – 3:57
  10. Church of Logic* (MMW, DJ Logic) – 6:38
  11. No Ke Ano Ahiahi (music was better in the old days|traditional]) – 4:48
  12. Hypnotized – 5:34

Combustication is an important album for MMW for several reasons: it is their first release on the venerable Blue Note label and compared to their previous work, it is more polished and more ambitious overall. Three of the tracks feature turntablism and one has spoken word. The scratching/sampling is compliments of DJ Logic (who is known for spinning a fusion of jazz, house and instrumental hip hop; he appears on the tracks with an asterisk) while the spoken word on "Whatever Happened to Gus" is by Steve Cannon (an old-time radio personality from Minneapolis who recorded with MMW upon his retirement from WCCO).

Like much of MMW's music, all of the tracks on this album are instrumentals—except for the one spoken word one (obviously) and "Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho" which features a slow chant of the song's title as a chorus.

This album was one of my favorites for a long time, until I lost my copy. After not listening to much MMW for a number of years, I find that their earlier recordings please me more. John Medeski uses only keyboards on Combustication, in earlier releases he employs the standard piano and organ as well as more fun stuff like the toy piano, clavinet and wurlitzer.

Depending upon one's primary musical comfort zone Combustication may be an easier entry-point into the world of MMW than their next studio release, The Dropper, which has a more driving tempo overall, more samples and is just plain louder. For those used to traditional jazz, start wtih Shack-man or Friday Afternoon in the Universe.

Wherever you're coming from, this is music that will make you want to move.

There is also the Combustication Remix EP, with different MCs and DJs altering six of the songs from full length. Worth checking out for fans of Combustication or for those who simply enjoy creative remixes—there's Bill Laswell combining tracks 10 and 12 to make "Satan's Church of Hypnotized Logic" and a spooky reworking of "Nocturne" by Dan the Automator (spooky because it includes snippets of an interview with the Unabomber).

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