Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey | Jack Quinn’s Emerald Ballroom | Cincinnati, OH | 03.29.03

Have you ever been so connected to a band during a performance that you felt as though you were part of the music? As if the music was coming straight from your consciousness? In times as unsettling as these today, it is refreshing to have your soul cleansed by the healing power of music.

That’s what seeing Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey will do for you. On March 29th, JFJO made its return to the Cincinnati area; a sort of homecoming for drummer Jason Smart, formerly of Cincinnati’s own Ray's Music Exchange. They made their return to a brand new venue called Jack Quinn’s Emerald Ballroom. This beautifully restored 19th century ballroom with a brand new stage and a first rate sound system made for an amazing intimate show. It was obvious by the expressions on the guys faces that they were glad to be there with so many of their friends and fans enjoying an evening of their music.

The first set started out with a touching rendition of Bob Marley’s “She’s Gone” by Reed Mathis, dedicated to his girlfriend back home. This was the first time I have seen Reed sing, and I was blown away. This guy is completely musical. Not only does Reed have an amazing voice but he had put together a completely fresh arrangement for solo bass. This was to be just the beginning. The band then followed with a couple of Jason Smart compositions entitled “Slow Breath, Silent Mind” and “Walking With Giants,” the latter showcasing Reed Mathis once again, this time on cello. But not playing in the traditional way, he had this thing around his neck with a strap. Surprisingly it sounded like an upright bass, which was a perfect compliment for Jason’s twisted world of swing.

The music seems to flow effortlessly from the three-headed monster we know as Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. There is a definite connection between the three minds onstage and the fans in the crowd. If you watch closely you can almost see the music going directly to each member of the band at the same time, almost like they are channeling something from the air, possibly what you are hearing in your head. When given the chance you have to catch a performance. If you are going to be in the Boston or New York area over the next five weeks I would strongly suggest seeking Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. Every Tuesday evening beginning April 1st, the Fred will take the stage at Harper's Ferry in Boston. Then on Wednesdays starting April 2nd, they head into New York to the Mercury Lounge. [Read a feature on this series.] They will be playing with some of the area’s best musicians, which will no doubt create some beautiful and inspired music.

Words: Rob Stratton
Photos: Lorin Blake
JamBase | Ohio
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[Published on: 4/3/03]

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