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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: The Battle for Earth

Read "The Battle for Earth" reviewed by Doug Collette

The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has been an adventuresome group since first initiated as an eight piece ensemble in its home of Oklahoma in 1994 But the group has quite possibly never lived up so fully to its moniker since realigning itself as a trio (again) in 2013. Keyboardist and charter member Brian Haas, guitarist/lap steel/synth player Chris Combs and drummer Josh Raymer have engaged in ambitious projects like The Race Riot Suite (Kinnara Prod., 2011), as well as self-sufficient ...

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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Worker

Read "Worker" reviewed by Dave Wayne

Of all the bands playing jazz-rock, or fusion, or whatever-you-want-to-call it, the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (or JFJO as they're known by their fans) is the one that comes closest to embodying Joe Zawinul's dictum regarding Weather Report's modus operandi: ..."nobody solos, everybody solos." The similarities stop there, however, though JFJO's careening omnivorous creativity, like Weather Report's, has enabled the band to carve out some very distinctive sonic territory. While JFJO's omnivorous jazz aesthetic--one which embraces Earl Hines as well ...

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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Millions: Live in Denver

Read "Millions: Live in Denver" reviewed by Dave Wayne

Long associated, for better or worse, with the so-called jam band phenomenon of the mid-to-late 1990s, the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey continues to generate intelligent, daring, genre-defying music. JFJO's first live recording in a decade or so, Millions: Live In Denver, is part celebration of their 20th year of existence and part revelry in their new sound: a pared-down lineup of keys, drums and guitar. The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based brainchild of keyboardist and composer Brian Haas, JFJO has gone through a ...

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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Race Riot Suite

Read "Race Riot Suite" reviewed by Doug Collette

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's Race Riot Suite is a reminder how adventurous the group has always been since its inception in 1994--never more so, perhaps, than in its latest incarnation, in place beginning in 2010. Four intervals, labeled “Prayers," are interspersed throughout the seven formally labeled tracks and allow JFJO to demonstrate its own collective and individual skill at improvisation. That cursory and close listens whet the appetite for more such jamming is a tribute to the judicious ...

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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Lil Tae Rides Again

Read "Lil Tae Rides Again" reviewed by James Taylor

Jacob Free Jazz Odyssey's Lil Tae Rides Again unfolds more like an eclectic indie-rock album than the jam band romps they've been known to fashion. A marriage of instrumental post-rock-infused jazz in the vein of Tortoise's brilliant TNT (Thrill Jockey, 1998) and hyperactive avant-funk and digital illbient a la DJ Spooky, Lil Tae is the ultimate in accomplishments, a near perfect reinvention of direction and sound. And perhaps that has more to do with the way this ...

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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Lil' Tae Rides Again

Read "Lil' Tae Rides Again" reviewed by Chris May

With Lil' Tae Rides Again, their first studio album since The Sameness Of Difference (Hyena Records, 2005), the mercurially inclined Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey have taken their biggest step so far into the unknown, re-inventing themselves in the process, at least for this project. The band gave unfettered creative control of the finished disc to their Tulsa neighbor, producer and electronicist Tae Meyulks, allowing him to deconstruct and reassemble the raw tracks as the spirit took him.

The ...

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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Three-Way Street

Read "Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Three-Way Street" reviewed by Paul Olson

There's no better gigging band than the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. The trio of pianist Brian Haas, bassist Reed Mathis and drummer Jason Smart ought to be a great live band--Haas and Mathis have been playing together for well over a decade (Smart joined the band more recently) and have, year after year, maintained a tour schedule that would crush a less hardy group.JFJO started out in Tulsa (Mathis and Haas still reside there when not on the ...

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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: The Sameness of Difference

Read "The Sameness of Difference" reviewed by Paul Olson

The whimsically titled Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (there's no one by that name in the band, and the “Jazz Odyssey comes from the execrable free jazz piece in This Is Spinal Tap) occupies a rather unique place in the jazz world. Electric bassist Reed Mathis, pianist Brian Haas, and drummer Jason Smart aren't the most improvisational band around; instead they concentrate on brilliantly arranged songs--the “jazz in their music grows from their breathing, vital interplay and their shifting, roiling rhythm.

LIVE REVIEWS

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey Live and Electric in Saratoga

Read "Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey Live and Electric in Saratoga" reviewed by R.J. DeLuke

Songs from the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey sometimes seem to be works in progress, which is good. That's what improvisational music should be. Fresh ideas. Different slants. But the young men that make up the band are also works in progress. They've been working together for a long time, but they're going to get better.

The band visited E. O'Dwyer's, curiously enough, just a small bar in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on June 23. The visit was pretty much unheralded ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Symbiosis Osmosis

Read "Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Symbiosis Osmosis" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey Symbiosis Osmosis Kufala Recordings 2005

How can you not love these guys? Actually, it's not that hard if you're a fan of Kenny G or George W. Bush. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's Symbiosis Osmosis opens with a song dedicated to the president called “Dubya! Stop Lying!" It's followed by another that pianist Brian Haas--a recent co-founder of “The Dead Kenny Gs"--introduces as “We're Not Scared Of You Because ...

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SXSW at the Elephant Room

Read "SXSW at the Elephant Room" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini

Among all the voices clamoring to be the “new direction of jazz," the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is one of a relative few that can speak with authority.

The Tulsa-based trio made their debut on the Downbeat critics poll last fall in the “Rising Star, Electric Band" category, a testament to their perseverance and development since they've spent the past decade wowing the progressive coffee house crowd. They are unmistakably part of the avant-garde scene that sometimes indulges ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Walking With Giants

Read "Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Walking With Giants" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey Walking With Giants Hyena Records 2004

For some reason applying the label “breakthrough album" here feels like I'm cheating the band.

The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has a number of outstanding studio and live albums to their credit--not to mention a huge amount of free online music (see www.jfjo.com )--but this may be the one that gets them out of the “deserving wider recognition" category.