JFJO | 03.10.02 | BOSTON

The last time the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey came to Boston, they blew my mind. This time they simply blew the roof off the house. I must have forgotten how insane these guys are, I mean it has been the better part of 2 months. You haven't seen anything if you haven't seen a Fred show. They play with so much energy and force, I don't know how they can play 3 straight hours. It boggles the mind. I'm wondering if these guys are going to be 50 years old and still hopping all over the stage and playing with the same energy.

This time around JFJO decided to play 608 (formerly Lilli's) in beautiful Somerville, MA. I wasn't quite sure why, I decided that they must have wanted a change of scenery, because I would say that 608 isn't even 3/4's of the size of Harper's Ferry, where they played last time. And they packed it in last time too, so we got there early to make sure a friend got a ticket. They were on from the beginning tonight. The Groove Machine started up real fast. Brian was as crazy as ever on the Rhodes piano, hopping in and out of his seat and shaking his head in every direction it would turn. Reed was a monster, he even seemed to have his own personal fan club right in the front. He seemed to really be enjoying the few people up close who kept shouting encouragement, he almost seemed to be playing off them.

When they came around last time their drummer, Jason Smart, was a relatively new member of the band. He was definitely a real strong drummer, but it was really my first JFJO concert, and I have to admit I was really paying attention to Brian and Reed. But this time I couldn't stop watching the Smart man. I mean this cat can flat-out play the drums. You have to be a sick drummer to be able to keep up the rhythm and timing of this group, but Smart does all that and much more. He had a new pair of bongos that he, and I, seemed to really be enjoying all night. He seemed a lot more comfortable up there this time through. He kept inventing new beats all night long, and he and Brian communicated well with each other. Now that Jason has been with the band for a while they are really running like a fine tuned machine. They are able to take the songs all over the place. A quiet easy groove can literally explode in the length of one second to the craziest noises you have ever heard come off a stage. We were even treated to a new song courtesy of Mr. Smart.

JFJO debuted a few songs for us Bostonians, including one with the really cool title of "Skiball on the Ocean," which was about Brian and his wife playing competitive Skiball with each other somewhere near the ocean, I think. That was a really cool song, and it was good to hear something new. After that we were treated to another new song, or new for me anyway, about their good friends who would be in Boston real soon. After seeing them together at the Berkfest I had a pretty good idea of who it was, Sound Tribe Sector 9. I believe it was called "Overtone Star," and I could actually see why they dedicated it to STS9. They would get into a really neat, chill groove, and then Smart would all of a sudden break into a really fast, almost break beat, drum riff and the song would take off. It reminded me of Zach Velmer's drumming at times, which maybe it was supposed to. Who knows!

After that we got to hear a really cool song with an even cooler title, "Thelonious Monk is my Grandmother." That song might actually be my favorite, but then again they're all my favorites. Then we got to hear some more crowd favorites. Someone yelled out "Vernal Equinox," and never one to disappoint Brian acknowledged it and they went right into it. Several minutes later we got another one of my personal favorites, and the winner of song title of the year, "Daily Wheat grass Shots Burned a New Pathway Through my Brain." Brian started talking about how they went and got some wheat grass shots earlier that day, and how, I think it was Reed, had a triple shot. If you've ever had a shot of wheat grass you will know that a triple is no joke. After our "Daily Shot" we were treated to a real Boston crowd favorite, another song about some of their friends called "The Slip." Last time I saw this song The Slip was in attendance, but this time they were on tour, so no Brad Barr guest spot. A few more songs and a few more drinks and we were ready to call it a night. Once again the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey left me craving for more. Come back soon!

Bob Dank
JamBase | Boston
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[Published on: 3/15/02]

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