Hyena Records is pleased to announce the signing of the revolutionary jazz trio Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, featuring Brian Haas on piano, Reed Mathis on bass, and Jason Smart on drums. Hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jacob Fred's career has spanned over a decade, while a relentless touring schedule has earned them one of the most devout audiences in improvisational music. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's debut on Hyena, the long awaited groundbreaking acoustic studio album entitled Walking with Giants, is their first studio effort in over three years. It's accompanied by a bonus DVD featuring four live performances filmed during their March 2004 run at Yoshi's in San Francisco. Walking with Giants hits the streets on August 17.

Performing over 150 dates a year has allowed Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey to evolve organically while focusing their ability to improvise as a unit to near telepathic proportions. It's exactly this sensitivity to one another's playing that helps the 13 compositions on Walking with Giants flourish. The detailed improvisational nuances of songs like "Skeeball Over the Ocean," "Calm Before the Storm," and "Hover" could only be achieved through the band exploring the vast possibilities of their music night after night on stage.

"There was a long process of evolution for these tunes," states Reed Mathis. "We had the opportunity to play and refine them for almost two years, which gave them the time to reach their full potential as compositions."

Jacob Fred's clear decision to record and tour acoustically, for the most part setting aside their electric elements, also played a major role in the band's evolution. New dynamics in sound presented themselves and were embraced wholeheartedly. The Fred had always been revered for utilizing the bass in modern and innovative ways, but in the acoustic setting a newfound tonal pureness released them to pursue a fresh improvisational course. Driven by Mathis' soaring violin-esque bass renderings, "Lola & Alice" soars majestically, while "Son of Jah" spirals madly between gravity and space, balanced perfectly between Haas and Smart's insistent rhythm. Mathis was also able to introduce the sitar to the band's repertoire on "As It Will Be," while subtleties in Smart's percussion like that of "Nibbles" emerge like never before.

Fittingly, Walking with Giants finds the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey joining Hyena, a label whose catalog includes James Blood Ulmer, Thelonious Monk, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Dr. John among others, validating the album's title in ways they had never imagined. But true to course, since their beginnings in Tulsa, the band's odyssey has always revealed itself with magical bits of self-fulfilling prophecy and synergy along the way.

As Mathis concludes, "Walking With Giants was originally conceived during a hike in the redwoods, just absorbing the ancientness and timelessness of the forest. But it also refers to our heroes in music who paved the way for us to follow in the footsteps of this great tradition they've created, and the desire for our music to attain that same eternalness."

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is the sound of three fearless musicians in constant pursuit of elevation--walking with giants and well on the path to becoming giants themselves.

JamBase | Oklahoma
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[Published on: 7/9/04]

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