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FOTD
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« on: July 23, 2009, 10:24:14 pm »

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/arts/music/21jacob.html?_r=2


MUSIC REVIEW | JACOB FRED JAZZ ODYSSEY
Jam Band’s Playful Signature in Earnest Jazz Notes
By NATE CHINEN
Published: July 20, 2009
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, from Tulsa, Okla., presents itself as a jam band, and over the last 15 years it has earned an avid following. Led by the pianist Brian Haas, it tours widely and often, recording some shows for official purposes and leaving others for the bootleg market. And like, say, Phish — whose bassist, Mike Gordon, has enlisted Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey as an opener in the fall — the group seeks a mix of precision and looseness, gravity and drollness. (“Jacob Fred” was a high school nickname of Mr. Haas’s; “Jazz Odyssey” refers to a moment in the movie “This Is Spinal Tap.”)

But the band’s high-spirited show at Joe’s Pub late on Saturday night also attested to some earnest jazz aspirations. Mr. Haas made a point of playing tunes byLouis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Abdullah Ibrahim and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
One original was titled “Earl Hines,” after the pianist whose style it strives to emulate. There were pockets of swing and sustained outbursts of improvisation, yet Mr. Haas and his crew sounded far better in a poplike mode, putting their stomping vitality to practical use.
The set featured a roughly equal helping of songs from “Winterwood,” an album available free at jfjo.com, and “One Day in Brooklyn,” an EP due in September. In one sense the set list’s division reflected a recent band upheaval. “Winterwood” is the last Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey album to feature the bassist Reed Mathis, a founding member and a crucial catalyst in the group’s old chemistry. (He now works with Tea Leaf Green, a jam band, and Marco Benevento, another keyboardist.) “One Day in Brooklyn,” recorded in April, is an early snapshot of the new lineup, with Mr. Haas, Chris Combs on lap steel guitar, Matt Hayes on upright bass and Josh Raymer on drums.
There’s a rustic foundation to the band now, thanks to the acoustic plunking of Mr. Hayes and the swoony embellishments of Mr. Combs. Where Mr. Mathis excelled in finessing electronic textures, the current group pursues an earthy vigor. On Kirk’s “Laugh for Rory,” Mr. Combs reached for the uplift of a gospel revival; on Mr. Ibrahim’s “Imam” he struck a prayerful vocal timbre. Mr. Hayes was a less assertive presence, but he locked in well with Mr. Raymer, a smartly physical drummer.
Mr. Haas steered from the piano, making use of an emphatic attack, a rococo sense of flourish and the trustworthy power of crescendo. He couldn’t mask his harmonic limitations, skating onto thin ice during “Four in One” (Monk) and “Song of the Vipers” (Armstrong). It was when he barreled his way through a bruising vamp — as on “Drethoven,” which he dedicated to “two of our favorite composers, Dr. Dre andBeethoven” — that his strenuous conviction carried him through.

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