Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey | Self Is Gone


Like water boiling to steam over the blue-gas flame in your dingy kitchen, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's latest release, Self Is Gone, transforms the unrefined contemporary principles of free jazz into richly textured ethereal soundscapes. By drawing out the tension and the chaos and the mad love of organic, improvised musical communication, Brian, Reed, and Matthew have created a jam-jazz fusion album, born of the moment and emblematic of the mysticism that is spreading through the neo-hipster, freely freakin' jazz-jamband scene.

Self Is Gone begins with a little soft-groove soul coupled with underlying keyboard tension as Brian Haas' superbly oscillates from heavy-handed Monkish chords to sprightly scales. Steady drums placed by Matthew Edwards just before the dominant beat allow Reed Matthis a wide range of sonic area to fill with lead bass riffs and steely rhythms. The intro and falling action of this piece are the only composed portions, with the midsection left completely open to free-jamming. "Fourth Aye" is a crowd fave at JFJO live performances; often followed by "TUNJito's" almost delicate melody, featuring Reed weeding out funky textures from the symmetrical thumps and drawn chord progressions, presenting psychedelic lullabies from his Fender. The tune is named for the Austin soul quintet, TUNJi, and rolls effortlessly into "Singapore" on Self Is Gone (as per live performance curriculum). "Singapore" becomes a musical eclipse of jazz-funk, as JFJO creates a head-bobbin' curtain of sound led by intricate Fender bass licks and 'right-on' jazz drumming to keep the backbeats thumping. Reed extends his bass into the stratosphere, and just when it seems the trio will coast to an airless halt, onward passes another slick, Rhodes melody from Brian with the boys doing their parts to fill in the spaces. The jam transforms back in "TUNJito" then explodes into another complex wandering effigy to the jazz giants of yesteryear, Miles and Louie peeking through, wearing Captain Trips hats.

"The Arrival" is track four on the latest release by JFJO and introduces a beautiful, meandering melody exposing a softer, simpler side to newschool jazz. At the hands and souls of the Tulsa, OK trio, I became wrapped in multi-layered rhythms and crystalline percussion which soon, made way for a coddling, relaxing whine from Haas' Melodica wind-piano. This pristine jam rolls like tides away from the beach, and the vacuum is as powerful as the current.

"The Time Is Now" begins as a clutter of changes with Brain leading the way to chaos. It is a jam born of the moment, and space jazz stylings bounce and fill the bars with rapid-fire licks and steady rhythms. During "Time Is Now," Reed seems to turn his bass into a percussion instrument, pounding away at the neck of his Fender like a 'Generation Y' Les Claypool.

"Why Is No One Happy" is one of my favorites on Self Is Gone as it heralds a superfly, disco embedded rhythm that slithers in and out of backbeat jazz funk. On this trip, the melody virtually bursts with a stormy horn section featuring four special guest musicians (some are were members of JFJO in the past and other are featured on Critters, as well). Reed's strings take the lead for a midsection solo, and drive home the crunchy, feedbacked melody, which at the hands of JFJO+ develops into articulate big band sound.

"Seansong" is another smooth, delicate work in progress, featuring an understated flow and dreamy layers of sound. This tune grabs hold with its depth of texture and blends instrumentation (as opposed to soloing and crashing) into a spacey restfulness, a virtual deep breath for the Self Is Gone LP.

"The Man Who Adjusted Tonalities" is an experimental, tone-builder with slippery key work, and a cohesive rhythm featuring finger-ripping bass beats and slick drumming.

In "Welcome Home Sweet Prince," we are reacquainted with Reed's oozing bass, Matthew's dancing drums, and the positive and negative relationship directed through Brian's keys. The sounds of "Welcome Home Sweet Prince" create a dramatic musical landscape for far-reaching sound effects and primal liveliness. It ends with simple and sturdy bass work.

"Critters" ends the saga of JFJO's most recent release with clitter-clatter rhythms to begin the track, laid-back seductive wanderings throughout the hump, and a dreamy jam to close. It is more or less a synopsis of the previous nine tracks and lulls the audience into a spiritual trance slowing the breath and kindling the ki.

Self Is Gone is an introverted examination into new millennium mysticism through free form organic space jazz. A great success for the Tulsa boys!

Jack Telleck

Sound interesting? Buy Self is Gone now!

[Published on: 6/22/01]

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