135

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Race Riot Suite

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Race Riot Suite 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 way this album was recorded and produced in the same city where the events took place. It's a tribute to the writing and the playing of all involved that the transitions in and out of the structure are seamless. Chris Combs' lap steel solo on "Black Wall Street" is as jaunty as double bassist Jeff Hershbarger's, and both interludes extend the mood of the structured piece.

That said, the group's deference to a star-studded horn section on this extended composition is startling on first listen and confounding on subsequent spins. Inspired by the 1921 riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this extended suite—written, arranged and orchestrated by Combs—finds the five-man woodwind complement prominent from the very start. The core quartet then serves to embroider themes such as those stated on "Prelude," for instance, which are then recapitulated by trumpeter Steve Bernstein, baritone saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum, tenor saxophonist Jeff Coffin, tenor saxophonist Matt Southerland and trombonist Matt Leland.

Having accompanied the likes of Bela Fleck, Don Cherry and Levon Helm, among others, each of those horn players has a well-earned pedigree justified during the course of Race Riot Suite. Playing in unison, they fashion the backdrop for "Mt Zion," which segues neatly from pianist Brian Haas' carefully- configured intro, in itself an extension of "First Prayer"; the reflective nature of his playing there, in counterpoint to the horns, clearly represents the cultural conflicts at the heart of the story.

As the suite reaches its most dramatic moments during "Grandfather's Gun," the circular nature of the piece becomes evident, as does the recession of JFJO into background players on its own piece. Some promising call-and-response between horns and piano gives way to dueling saxophones on the feverish "Cover Up," one of the few such junctures here, begging the question of how much JFJO themselves will expand its role in this whole piece when and if it's played live, sans horns.

As the invocation of peace in "Third Prayer" morphs from mere suggestion to overt declaration on the fitful "Eye of the Dove," Haas' surrender of the spotlight to Apfelbaum is a reminder of how little has been heard of the pianist and his three JFJO comrades during the course of this 46-plus minutes. The confluence of motifs within the recording on this disc tantalizes as much as it fulfills, thus rendering repeated listenings necessary, if only to better glean the nuances of the piece itself, as well as the instrumental personalities involved.

Track Listing: Prelude; Black Wall Street; Burning; First Prayer; Mt. Zion; Lost In the Battle For Greenwood; Second Prayer; Grandfather's Gun; Cover Up; Third Prayer; Eye of the Dove; Last Prayer.

Personnel: Brian Haas: piano; Chris Combs: lap steel; Josh Raymer: drums; Jeff Hershbarger: bass; Jeff Coffin: tenor saxophone; Steven Bernstein: trumpet; slide trumpet; Peter Apfelbaum: baritone saxophone; Mark Southerland: tenor saxophone, homemade horns; Matt Leland: trombone.

Title: Race Riot Suite | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Kinnara Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Sonder CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Putting Off Death CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Another Place, Another Time" CD/LP/Track Review Another Place, Another Time
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 18, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Madjafalao" CD/LP/Track Review Madjafalao
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Triplicate" CD/LP/Track Review Triplicate
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Penumbra" CD/LP/Track Review Penumbra
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 10, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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