114

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia

Edward Zucker By

Sign in to view read count
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Chris Jazz Cafe
Philadelphia PA
June 14, 2006

The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey contains neither a Jacob nor a Fred, and some jazz purists would argue that maybe the band does not even play jazz. JFJO is a trio of Brian Haas, piano, Jason Smart on drums and bass guitarist Reed Mathias.

While their music is usually classified in the same oeuvre as Soulive and Medeski, Martin & Wood, one thing these bands share is the distinction of being potentially dismissed by the Stanley Crouch crowd for not playing "pure jazz.

JFJO plays their own brand of experimental-improvisational-funk-jam band jazz. They have created their unique niche, not as introspective as Bill Evans, and lacking the bombast of The Bad Plus. While their playing tends to avoid a traditional jazz format, it IS grounded in jazz tradition. Their style is almost its own genre, somewhere beyond post bop, yet not quite avant-garde.

On this night they mixed originals with covers such as Mingus' "Fables Of Faubus, Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way, the Lennon / McCartney tune "Happiness Is A Warm Gun, and a splash of Jimi Hendrix, the JFJO create their own unique sound. For example, they began "Fables Of Faubus by stating the melody; a third of the way into the tune the music morphed into an extended jam session; then, returning to the melody to close out the tune, they avoided the head / solo format. Mingus' composition became not so much a single tune as a three part suite. The band's free-form playing creates and builds dynamic tension, then brings it to satisfying release.

If it is possible for music to sound angry, their original "Halliburton Breakdown achieves this effectively. Mathias provided an inspired extended solo and created the impression of both bass and lead guitar through his use of the octave pedal. To compare the way he plays bass to anyone else, is to do him a disservice. Much the way Jaco Pastorius created his own unique voice, Mathias is forcing his imprint on electric bass.

Haas played piano with dynamic lyricism, with some of his phrasings and use of space suggesting Monk. When involved in his many rapid exchanges with Mathias, he brings a fiery intensity that seemed to channel Cecil Taylor, right down to Haas using his elbows on the keys.

Smart, on the drums, kept the groove, seeming to hold down the bottom effortlessly. He is a truly creative drummer, although at times he appears to get swallowed up by the music and his band mates, especially on some the extended funk jams and this may just have been the result of how the band was mixed that evening.

The ultimate road warriors, the JFJO spend up to two hundred nights a year on tour. The dividends are clear in their tight cohesion. I last heard them two years ago and in that time their growth and development is astounding.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Redwood City Salsa Festival 2017 Live Reviews Redwood City Salsa Festival 2017
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 17, 2017
Read AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia Live Reviews AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia
by Mark Holston
Published: October 13, 2017
Read CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club Live Reviews CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017" Live Reviews Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Joseph Leighton Trio at Jazzhole" Live Reviews Joseph Leighton Trio at Jazzhole
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Mike Zito at the Iridium" Live Reviews Mike Zito at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note" Live Reviews Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Internationales Jazz Festival Münster 2017" Live Reviews Internationales Jazz Festival Münster 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: January 26, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.