3

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: The Battle for Earth

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
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 exercises in potent improvisation such as last year's Worker (Royal Potato Family Records, 2014), in so doing demonstrating the strength of their ideas lie in the unity of the trio.

Accordingly, it makes sense JFJO's next endeavor would be on the literally fantastic order of The Battle for Earth, music depicting a science fiction story line (devised by Combs), a corollary version of which is available in comic book form. True to the fundamental jazz ethic of the group, the performance in digital and CD form was recorded live at Dazzle in Colorado in the autumn of 2014, the threesome artfully incorporates the new material within the more recent compositions of the story-line, thereby successfully extending the twenty-one year plus continuity that is The Jacob Fred Odyssey.

Even with economically-arranged cuts such as "Better Living Through Competitive Spirituality" and "Hey Hey NSA," there's a definite sense of spontaneity radiating from the playing here, that atmosphere leavened by the the tongue-in-cheek attitude that precludes the pretension usually afflicting such concept pieces. Haas' grand piano foray on "Tetherball Triumph" amplifies that notion as the instrument's acoustic textures find cushion on keyboard bass combined with free-wheeling drumming of Raymer.

This spin through seemingly familiar turf morphs into much more as part of a larger whole as well as the soundtrack to a panel of artwork: immediately following, sonic textures ripple in and out of "Let Yourself Out" and, in turn, The Battle for Earth as a whole as synthesizers weave in and out of lap steel while piano functions as the percussion instrument it actually is, creating complex rhythm patterns with the snare and kick drum.

This music should function ideally as accompaniment to the artwork, that is, if it weren't so arresting on its own terms, in part because the quality of the recorded sound is the definition of 'being in the room with the band,.' Consequently, cuts like "Betamax" compel close attention if only to discern, first of all, how Haas, Combs and Raymer are interacting and, in turn, how much is actually composed rather than improvised. In contrast to "New Bird," this work of JFJO's is generally more upbeat than the previous studio album, as in the form of the appropriately titled "Bounce,"but it's no less intoxicating in its own way, the fairly quick succession of its eleven cuts, most of roughly four to eight minute duration, creating a similarly all-encompassing ambiance.

In fact, if The Battle for Earth were sequenced without the sound of the audience and titular leader Haas' spoken words, the precision of the playing would suggest this is the work of concentrated effort captured in a recording studio. There is no higher compliment to be paid to musicians whose chemistry and camaraderie allows them to sound this way on a stage.

Track Listing: Better Living Through Competitive Spirituality; Hey Hey NSA; Tetherball Triumph; Let Yourself Out; Betamax; The Finder’s Keeper; Appropriation Song; Say Nothing; New Bird; Bounce; Skeeball Over The Ocean/Sean’s Song.

Personnel: Brian Haas: piano, Moog bass, melodica; Chris Combs: guitar, lap steel, synthesizers; Josh Raymer: drums.

Title: The Battle for Earth | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Royal Potato Family

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Lost In The Battle For Greenwood

Lost In The Battle For Greenwood

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
The Race Riot Suite

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Extended Analysis
Download Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Worker

Worker

Royal Potato Family
2015

buy
The Battle for Earth

The Battle for Earth

Royal Potato Family
2015

buy
Millions: Live In Denver

Millions: Live In...

Royal Potato Family
2014

buy
Race Riot Suite

Race Riot Suite

Kinnara Records
2011

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read This Should Be Fun Album Reviews
This Should Be Fun
By David A. Orthmann
April 20, 2019
Read Transoceanico Album Reviews
Transoceanico
By Patrick Burnette
April 20, 2019
Read Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection Album Reviews
Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
By Jakob Baekgaard
April 20, 2019
Read Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972 Album Reviews
Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972
By John Kelman
April 19, 2019
Read HUJE 2018 Album Reviews
HUJE 2018
By Jack Bowers
April 19, 2019
Read Farallon Album Reviews
Farallon
By Jerome Wilson
April 19, 2019
Read Burning Meditation Album Reviews
Burning Meditation
By John Sharpe
April 18, 2019