This instrumental music project took shape when eclectic jazz keyboardist John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin & Wood) and the North Mississippi Allstars developed a mutual enthusiasm for the sounds o

This instrumental music project took shape when eclectic jazz keyboardist John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin & Wood) and the North Mississippi Allstars developed a mutual enthusiasm for the sounds of "sacred steel." As practiced by such artists as the Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolph, sacred steel is a largely (but not exclusively) instrumental gospel style strongly influenced by blues and distinguished by the use of the steel guitar as lead instrument. That's precisely what's going on here: Randolph's steel guitar sings with a righteous voice, while Medeski and the Allstars bring a serious, sanctified groove. This is powerhouse music, typified by such traditional gems as "At the Cross," "Blood on That Rock," and the late Glenn Lee's "Joyful Sounds."—PVV