Mike Clark, the man who is known for kickin' out some of the freshest beats with Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, graced the audience of Martyrs' last night with some of his friends, creating organic music and spontaneous improv out of original pieces. The quartet - made up of Chicago's very own Fareed Haque, of the Fareed Haque Group and Garaj Mahal; Rhodes guru Brian Haas and the bassist that could make grass grow on a busy street, Reed Mathis, both from the hottest most experimental band touring today, the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey - pushed the envelope on well-rounded and well-known jazz classics such as Coltrane's "Equinox," Miles's "Stuff" and "Monk's Theme."
Throughout the night Mike Clark played with free-spirited enthusiasm, accepting every curve thrown at him. His fresh beats and impeccable timing locked each composition like a dread. Fareed Haque swam well with the rapids of the rhythm section, adding intergalactic riffs and funky chord phrasings.
Let it be known though, that the true heroes of the night were the Jedi masters from the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Brian Haas and Reed Mathis. These two truly stole the show. Haas's fingers crawled like a thousand spiders over his vintage Rhodes keyboard. With his delicate touch, genius ear and ferrous chops, Haas's element quickly formed each composition. Reed Mathis, as the foundation creator and groove technician, was very focused, keeping good eye contact and maintaining a solid foundation for his mates to play over. Mathis as the improv Jedi, with his effects a combination of an octave pedal and wah, transformed the standard four-string instrument into a very convincing melodic weapon. Mathis not only played what he heard and felt, he also captivated the listener in a way that made the subconscious conscious.
For those of you who have seen Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey in the past, you know their music always makes the "jump to light speed" no problem. Their music has been described as weird, out-of-ordinary and beautiful, bringing you closer to yourself and the creator. Their performance with Mike Clark was very toned down, almost ordinary, compared to a Jacob Fred performance. Mathis was walking bass lines that would make Ron Carter smile from ear to ear, and Haas played melodies that even your mother would understand. But, their level of performance and musicianship remained high, following guidelines at times then bending and eventually breaking the rules. Mike Clark loved it! He was wearing a perma-grin all night.
From call-and-response conversation between Haque and Haas and Clark and Mathis, to paying homage to the blues with a special guest guitarist from Chicago (who deserves the highest credit for bringing these groove mongrels to their roots), to the ambition Mike Clark drove out of his young apprentices, this group made musicians want to practice more and healed you better than any wheat grass shot available.
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