There have been quite a few times that Medeski, Martin and Wood provided the grooved-out soundtrack to certain memorable occasions in my life. Interestingly, though we’d frequently play Shak-man or Friday Afternoon in the Universe when cruising around in my friend’s beat-up Dodge Shadow and getting into all the things adolescents with too much time on their hands tend to get into, I had never heard their sophomore album, It’s a Jungle in Here until about 5 years ago.
Where’s Sly? is the second track on that album and a personal favorite of mine. For the past several years, the tune has become somewhat of a standard in the bands that I’ve played in and has always provided an excellent vehicle for creative expression. Just enough structure to give the audience something to hang on to, plenty of space to stretch out, lot’s of possibilities for rearranging and a cool melody make it a song that always feels fresh.
Since I haven’t seen a whole lot of transcriptions for this tune out there, I figured I’d provide my own for anyone interested in the song. A couple of notes on this version:
- I’ve seen other people write out more specific changes for the “B” section, but I’ve always preferred to think of this section as free improv with a sparse, locrian sort of feel. The same probably goes for the “C” section, but for that part I tend to go for a more aggressive, diminished sound.
- This chart is arranged in the usual way I tend to play it. The original recording has a slightly different arrangement. I find the version on this chart seems to work well for people who are less familiar with the tune.
This chart is really just a starting point. Where’s Sly? is the launching pad for all sorts of musical peregrinations. As a final bit of inspiration, compare the original studio version above with this reinvention of the tune almost 20 years later from MMW’s live album, Free Magic. Wild.