Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

139

Farther Afield: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey Live at Higher Ground

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
In a recent appearance at South Burlington Vermont's Higher Ground, The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey sounded like a wholly different band than the one that appeared in the Burlington area the last time the performed at Nectar's in the fall of 2004. As captured on the trio's brilliant new album The Sameness of Difference, JFJO is now eminently focused, its music streamlined and purposeful, all the more memorable for that combination of virtues.

That's what made it part mystifying and part frustrating to see how the crowd, apparently excited to see the band at the outset of the evening, dwindled considerably during the last half-hour of the single set performance, That begs the question of whether the band should include more covers, such as Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down, later in the set.

But that may be a moot point since JFJO mapped out close to two hours onstage so wisely, navigating originals like "Halliburton Breakdown with all the flourish they applied to outside material like "Happiness Is A Warm Gun. This performance of a Beatles tune stood like a microcosm of the threesome's approach since, with its distinct sections in markedly different rhythms and seeming disconnected melodies, it became a suite of sorts.

Jacob Fred covered a lot of territory in their time on the Showcase Lounge stage and, to their credit, never got bogged down anywhere they went (unlike openers Oshe, who are so single-mindedly immersed in Seventies fusion). The threesome deftly facilitated transitions from the pulsing rhythms of sound similar to Miles Davis' electric period with more melodic approach of pop, the likes of which distinguish their new recording.

It's a tribute to bassist Reed Mathis' mastery of his bass that, in addition to playing the instrument in a conventional method, the effects he extracts from it add so much atmosphere to the group's sound: close you eyes and you will easily imagine more than just three men on stage when listening to The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey.

And you may want to close your eyes when Mathis indulges in the body English and facial contortions he does. In contrast to drummer Jason Smart, who is as effective a percussionist as he is unobtrusive stage presence, Mathis' self-conscious mannerisms only detract from his musicianship. He could take a hint from Smart and of keyboardist Brian Haas, who approaches his instruments, including something that sounds like a melodica but is only a remarkable simulation, with the professorial air of an intellectual.

Such is the collective persona of JFJO, whose cryptic album titles, combined with their conceptual ambitions, appear more abstract than they come across on stage. Especially right now, with all three bringing diverse outside experience to their common project, and the sum of that practice reaping such artistic dividends to the band, the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey deserves to be heard by larger audiences, in both live and recorded contexts.

Photo Credit Kevin Haas


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read BAN BAM: Music Talking Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "October Revolution in Jazz & Contemporary Music 2017" Live Reviews October Revolution in Jazz & Contemporary Music 2017
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "T.S. Monk Sextet at Revolution Hall" Live Reviews T.S. Monk Sextet at Revolution Hall
by Tom Borden and Eric Gibbons
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Miles From India at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Miles From India at SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center" Live Reviews Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 26, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!