Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Jam Funk Jazz Odyssey – on the brink of stardom
By Keith Scandone

Jazz is a night by the fire of burning wood and smoldering ashes. Jam funk jazz is a night by the fire doused with gasoline. Ella Fitzgerald is jazz. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is jam funk jazz.

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, also referred to simply as JFJO, made an appearance last week at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica, CA. From the first chord off Reed Mathis’ guitar, to the vengefully spirited closing with Lost at the State Fair, they never missed a beat. The trio out of Tulsa, Oklahoma ambushed the crowd instantaneously with their adrenaline-induced jazz. Although the set was short, it was nothing short of sweet, as they weaved in and out of chords and songs. From Lost in Las Vegas, from their Welcome Home album, to Fourth Aye, from their upcoming album, Self is Gone, they put everyone in a dancing state of mind. The only words from the stage, in the midst of an all instrumental set, were stated simply and to the point, “JFJO everybody. Taking jazz to new heights.”

The young band consists of Reed Mathis on bass, Matthew Edwards on drums, and the classically trained Brain Haas on piano. They have already been compared to Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane, Galactic and Medeski, Martin and Wood. Most of the comparisons are being made because of their innovative twist on jazz, and their effusive energy on stage. Much like the aforementioned artists, JFJO is branching off the once narrow path of jazz. They have created a new slant and manufactured a new sound to the now malleable genre, much like the other masters have been known to do.

They have the ability, like many other jams bands such as Widespread Panic and Phish, to take the audience and themselves on a journey. Without a beginning or end, their songs just seem to be a long middle of rifts and spontaneity. Although, this type of performance can be both a strength and a weakness, if not pulled off correctly. “I’m doing different verses every night just trying to work a song into a groove where we can get to a place where the people can digest it.” (Theryl “Houseman” de Clouet of Galactic). As the Houseman puts it, it’s all about the audience.

No matter how good you are, without the fans, you are just musicians playing in a garage wearing sweat pants and slippers. JFJO has to make sure to remember that. The importance to showcase seemed to outweigh the importance of incorporating the crowd. Jacob Fred Jazz took everyone on an Odyssey, but some could noticeably not keep up. As they continue to grow, they just have to make sure they are in tune with their audience and that the audience is in tune to them. Although that was the only thing that kept them from scoring a perfect score.

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is on the brink of stardom. They all have remarkable talents, and they are all on the same page. They have shared the stage with proven bands such as; Galactic, The Funky Meters and Medeski, Martin and Wood, and have more than held their own. They have opened for numerous acts, many times stealing the spotlight. JFJO has a true love for the art that fills the performance room with emotion and imagery, sanctity and solemnity. They have the ability to alter their moods and chords so organically and succinctly, that their improvisational brand of music seems as if it were tirelessly rehearsed.

Their performance at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica was an impressive one and broadened their fan base by at least one... me.

[Published on: 1/22/01]

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