Sunday, September 27, 2009

Disc of the Day: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, One Day in Brooklyn

JFJO is a band whose sound has undergone several radical reinventions. My review of the band was published this week in Las Vegas City Life. Click here to see it, or read below.

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
One Day in Brooklyn (Kinnara Records)

Anyone casually dropping in on the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey over the course of the Tulsa band's 15-year journey might be shocked at its evolution. Pianist/keyboardist Brian Haas and electric bassist Reed Mathis started the band as a jammy jazz-funk octet with horns; six years later it became an avant-leaning trio.

Now comes another surprising wrinkle: Mathis is gone, replaced by upright bassist Matt Hayes, and the band expands to a quartet with lap steel guitarist Chris Combs.

The new lineup's debut EP, recorded live in Brooklyn, feels like a validation of Haas' impulse to revamp his band's sound. Now, it's a sometimes tightly grooving, sometimes swinging, sometimes swaying blend of jazz, funk, Americana and classical strains.

Thelonious Monk's "Four in One" is here, with the tricky piano melody riding rambling rhythms and joined by oozing guitar twang. The Beatles' "Julia" is crystalline and poignant, gorgeously understated. And jazz saxophonist and composer Rahsaan Roland Kirk is paid homage with a quirky medley linking a two-beating "A Laugh for Rory" with the dramatic "Black & Crazy Blues."

Also striking: JFJO's own dissonance-edged "Country Girl" and the stately "Drethoven." Haas subverts expectations, again.

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