What: John Medeski’s Mad Skillet opening for The Motet

When: 8 p.m. Sunday, doors open at 7 p.m.

Where: Midtown Ballroom, 51 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend

Cost: $27 plus fees

Contact: parallel44presents.com or 541-408-4329

John Medeski isn’t exactly known for his musical brevity.

The pianist, keyboardist and composer built his career on fearless improvisation, from his genre-blending work as one-third of jazz/funk/fusion outfit Medeski Martin & Wood, to sit-ins with Phil Lesh and Friends and Phish. So when Medeski’s latest project, John Medeski’s Mad Skillet, joins funk/Afrobeat/jam band The Motet for a handful of shows on its current tour behind new album “Death or Devotion” — including a return stop at Midtown Ballroom on Sunday — don’t expect a typical, truncated opening set.

“This band is not capable of reining anything in,” Medeski said from his home in upstate New York. “Tell us what time to start, tell us what time to end, and we’ll fill that time up with some Mad Skillet music.”

In fact, it’s best to leave any expectations at the door, as can be said for most projects Medeski has committed his name to over the years.

“It’s my favorite way to work — you get musicians together, and everyone gets to be themselves and express what they have to express with the music,” he said. “Everyone in the band is sort of a leader and a producer and a composer, so when we get together, we’re all thinking like that, and we support each other like that, and then everyone on their own can step out and take the lead. So when we play a set of music, anything can happen at any time.”

Mad Skillet — featuring Medeski, guitarist Will Bernard, sousaphonist Kirk Joseph and drummer Terence Higgins — joins a flurry of new projects for Medeski in the last few years, including the jazz supergroup Hudson featuring longtime collaborator, guitarist John Scofield, among others; and atmospheric rock combo Saudade featuring Deftones’ Chino Moreno and Crosses’ Chuck Doom. As with those other projects, Mad Skillet explores different facets of Medeski’s playing, in particular the New Orleans jazz and second-line sounds of Joseph’s (and formerly Higgins’) main gig, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

While Mad Skillet performed in Europe in 2017 and made its national debut last year with a tour and self-titled album, the quartet’s origin goes back to the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Bernard and Medeski, who first worked together on Bernard’s 2008 album “Blue Plate Special,” would jam together at the festival every year. In 2015, they hooked up with Higgins and Joseph, whom Medeski met while producing the Dirty Dozen’s 1999 album “Buck Jump.”

“We just bring what we bring — our voices, our musical personalities — and it’s just one of those things, just for some reason, it has a chemistry, and it works,” Medeski said. “Will and I share a love of a lot of the same music, from contemporary classical music to jazz to all the New Orleans stuff. We love that music and we both spend a lot of time down there. We’re not from there, so for us, it’s a real honor and treat to get to play with Kirk and Terence.”

As Medeski mentioned above, everyone in the band contributed equally to songwriting on the album (the “John Medeski” in the band’s name is for recognition’s sake, though Medeski produced the album). Medeski’s credits include the horn-driven ““Invincible Bubble” and the closing “The Heart of Soul,” a tribute to Chip Hooper, deceased booking agent for Medeski Martin & Wood, while “Tuna in a Can” and “Psychedelic Rhino” were full-band compositions.

“These are tunes that — not all of them, but most of them — we had already tried and tested a little bit live in our New Orleans shows,” Medeski said. “… We also just gave ourselves time and space to improvise together. … In the mixing process, in the case of ‘Psychedelic Rhino,’ I took this long, extended improv and I edited it into a piece of music. And now we use the recording as a template to launch improv.”

The rhythm section sets this project apart from other Medeski side projects. Joseph’s rumbling sousaphone lines take the bass-guitar role, locking in with Higgins’ drums to give the band its New Orleans jazz/funk undercurrent.

“Sousaphone is the original bass. Especially if you travel to New Orleans, it’s part of the tradition in the brass band world,” Medeski said. “There’s something about an instrument where you use your breath that gives you a different sense of phrasing and a different sense of timing and space. But Kirk — there’s no one who is more grooving than Kirk, and Kirk also has very expansive concepts. I mean, you’ll get to hear it. I think you get to hear a few things in this band you never get to hear him do.”

The shows with The Motet will put the instrumental quartet in front of jam-band fans, who also embraced Medeski Martin & Wood early in its career in the ’90s. The members of The Motet are unabashed MMW fans, with the two groups sharing a 2015 bill at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

Medeski, for his part, acknowledged the leg up that scene has given his career. But the classically trained pianist, who played with bass legend Jaco Pastorius as a teenager and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston before forming MMW in New York City, admitted he’s not interested in labeling his music.

“For a long time … I gave up on trying to describe what kind of music I do,” Medeski said. “It’s so perspective-oriented; what someone thinks is jazz, someone else may not. I don’t even really worry about any of that. It’s just music for me.”

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