Words by: Gabriela Kerson :: Images by Robert Chapman

JFJO :: 12.08.06 :: Blue Note :: New York, NY

JFJO :: 12.08 :: NYC
There is a groove to improvisational music, a dance that stems from somewhere beyond. In the "post jam" world - after bebop, rock, funk, punk and acid jazz - there is a new sound rising, channeled by young people around the globe. And late nights at the Blue Note on West Third Street in New York City is as good a place as any to find it.

The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is a trio - none of whom are named Jacob or Fred - who've spent the last ten years stretching the boundaries of music as we know it. Using notes to aid personal growth, evolution, and mass communication, they've earned a reputation as leaders in this musical forum. Originally based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they now tour internationally, picking up fresh knowledge and laying down new tones.

Reed Mathis - JFJO
12.08 :: NYC
I entered the swanky bar to find JFJO already deep into a late night groove. Reed Mathis stood center stage, rocking out with his electric bass. Brian Hass had created a corner of keyboards stage right and sat with his back mostly to the audience, in the style of John Medeski, and split his time between an upright piano and his Rhodes. Jason Smart was behind a minimal drum kit, back in the shadows of stage left.

There is a feeling of elegance that imbues the Blue Note, from the beautiful cocktail waitresses to the pictures of musicians etched into mirrors to the red velvet surroundings reeking of old style class, where jeans and t-shirts casualness is discouraged.

All three looked younger then their years and well rested after taking some time off to work on side projects. As with any short run, they were also a little out of practice. The music was jazzy and light, with Hass bringing in funk lines that amplified the sound exponentially.

During "The Maestro," the bass swooped to the low end as the drums held steady. The interplay between Mathis and Smart hit a nice stride before Mathis ran solo, his fingers flying then teased to a higher level by Hass' spacey Rhodes bleeps. Mathis stepped towards Hass and played a few keys on his Rhodes before a head banging, finger picking finish.

Haas & Mathis - JFJO :: 12.08 :: NYC
Hass' pinstripe suit contrasted with Mathis' more relaxed jeans and grey t-shirt, as did his more reserved approach to the music. While Mathis bopped his head and strummed his heart out, Hass observed, adding low vibes into bouncier melodies before trailing off.

Throughout the night the genres shifted - a little bit of carnival music, some funk, a dab of samba, some light jazz. The final song of the evening, "Tomorrow You Know Today," written by Jason Smart began with Latin drum beat and a video game/electronic influence. A high hat solo led to a break from the Rhodes and a slow, "Inspector Gadget" style melody. As technically accomplished as it was, the ensuing music reminded me of a hamster wheel that needed to be oiled.

As the song ended and the music rambled off into jazz fairyland, they said goodnight. Heading home through the early morning bustle of the city, I felt a lingering dissatisfaction. I, like this genre of music, have traveled through many places and spaces over the years - Phish, Dave Matthews, Talking Heads, Zappa - and ended up feeling that this "post jam" session faced the same problem its creators have encountered since its inception. Light and easy to listen to, the music was mostly self-indulgent noodling that could only be appreciated by like-minded music nerds. Walking the line between mind-blowing creativity and musical masturbation, I felt this show fell disappointingly far on the wrong side of the line.

JFJO :: 12.08.06 :: Blue Note :: New York, NY
Davey's Purple Powerline, Oklahoma Stomp, Nibbles, Deluge, Nels Parade, Grub Ridge Stomp, Improv, The Maestro, Earl Hines, I'll Remember April, Tomorrow We'll Know Today

JamBase | New York
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Check out JamBase's JFJO feature Forever Vernal here...


[Published on: 1/8/07]

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toestothenose Mon 1/8/2007 04:53PM
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I was at the next night - a true JFJO spectacular to end the year! Here are a couple videos from the evening.



Rebacreates starstarstar Mon 1/8/2007 11:50PM
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JFJO is amazing. I agree though, sometimes their looseness is a sort of musical/intellectual jazzhole jack off session. However, the avant garde noise stuff makes the melodic pretty stuff that much nicer. Its also cool to force yourself to appreciate the deep end of nonsensical improvised music. Theres a lot to be found in the mishmash of sounds (especially when Reed is playing bass). But of course, if there is more of the nonsensical stuff going on than the pretty stuff i would be disatisfied as well.

Just throwing my thoughts out there.

Reed Mathis = Badass


saba starstarstar Tue 1/9/2007 06:44AM
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i'm glad these guys have come so far. reed really is an amazing bass player.

Hotchkiss starstarstar Tue 1/9/2007 10:36AM
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decent review, just a few gripes.

the reviewer says the band was well rested after after time off with working on side projects. they just spent the better half of november touring europe.

gabriela also mentions walking in to the venue and the fred was already playing. so not only is she not to informed on the happenings in the fred world, but not concerned with getting to the show early so she doesn't miss one second of the fred magic.

i know the freds ability to wonder into the musical masterbation zone, and i havn't heard all the show. but i'm not feeling any wieght behind this review, just random observations and opinions.

Hotchkiss star Tue 1/9/2007 11:57AM
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and please no more dumb lables for music. "post jam" give me a fuckin break.

Rebacreates Tue 1/9/2007 12:06PM
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Post Jam!! Hahahahaha, yeah i forgot to mention how ridiculous that was.

Beeno starstarstarstar Tue 1/9/2007 12:17PM
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I'm pleading with anyone that will listen to never write or utter the phrase "post jam"

JFJO rules

jhrt3349 Tue 1/9/2007 02:21PM
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I was there that night. A very sick JFJO performance indeed... the review just doesn't give the show justice.

phishgrl23 star Tue 1/9/2007 09:03PM
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Bullshit review! I was there both nights and they played an amazing variety of short and sweet to long and powerful, all different feels, Reed killing it on guitar, ETC! This writer doesn't even have enough pride in her work to look at the band's website to see what they have been up to and to spell the band member's names right. Jambase, is this the kind of writing you want featured on your website? Get it together!

gabrielle starstarstarstar Tue 1/9/2007 09:30PM
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I have to respond to two things, one sorry about the mispelinng of Brian Haas' name. second, they were off from the 19th of November until the 8th of December, in any other work calendar that would be called a break. Oh yeah, if you can't laugh at the phrase post jam, you might not be getting the joke.

jazztimmy star Tue 1/9/2007 09:31PM
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i did think saturday made more sense, but i truly enjoyed both nights. great, enthusiastic crowds both nights. seemed like they were having a hard time with onstage sound both nights.

reviewer seems uninformed and not a big fan of music. if i was writing a review of a show, i would show up early. i agree, jambase could do alot better than this half-assed mediocrity.

EVILFUNK starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/10/2007 08:50AM
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Post jam??? i was post jam for a week or two back in the early 90s....i was mostly going through a phase where i thought i was too cool for liking certain stuff (anything but the dead and phish bootlegs i had been listening to non stop for a few years). i was all about hip stuff like acid jazz (laughing at myself now - and laughing at the 90s in general)so glad i got that thinking out of my system when i did. now i noodle and wail and people in thier early 20s call me a tacky old hippy rocker for it. cool. i love rock and roll!

Jam is Dead?

I began to wonder if this was true but i knew it when i heard a majority of bands at the Sea of Dreams that really did nothing new for rock and roll 9Lotus Pnuma and Zap Mama were cool as shit). I ASK ; is it the job of a jam band to do as the GD and Phish did when they broke the mold? -OR- is jam derivative music - are we here to sound like phish or the GD? SCI, ALO...whats the point? to sell drinks? if this is jam...mabey i should go for 'post jam indy whore' status!

personally, i imagine SOME musicians have been sitting around NYC talking about how silly the jam movement is for over a decade....hipster jazz geeks (super skilled, super talented) who may suddenly be happy to have an audience and a ton of good gigs playing improvised music but resistant to 'hippy rock' for shure. if im going to entertain the idea that JFJO, the Duo and the Slip are 'post jam' i would have to say that they were 'post jam' from the beginning.

JFJO is sick!

pjustus starstar Thu 1/11/2007 03:32AM
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I found a lot wrong with this article.

First off, and it's not JFJO related, but John Medeski doesn't spend the majority of his time with his back to the audience. He mainly faces Chris and Billy, only switching sides to play a different keyboard. Secondly, Jason's kit is not "minimal" -- it's the standard four piece set of which many drummers have been using for over 70 years. Some of the reviewer's other comments are downright snarky and/or mean spirited, and she even arrived late.

My biggest bone to pick with this review is that she puts JFJO in the same field as Dave Matthews, Phish, Talking Heads, and Zappa, all of whom played completely different music that could not fit into one genre (unless you count both DMB and Phish as jambands, but even within that group, they are entirely unlike one another). JFJO has never been a "jam" band. (I like jambands, but there's a clear difference in the style of music, in my opinion.)

I wasn't there that night, but I would hardly describe most of the Fred's music as "light and easy to listen to." Even if their newer music IS lighter and easier to listen to, that doesn't make it less valid. Pat Metheny and Bill Evans are/were typically "light and easy," but that does not mean they're lightweight.

Jambase has been reviewing JFJO's live shows since 2000 and this is by far the worst, most inaccurate, condescending review I've read so far. This may have not been the writer's intention, but that's how it came across.

BrotherCal starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/11/2007 08:31AM
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Here's a blog that just about says it all...some folks get it, others don't. To quote this cat: "JFJO, please, never stop. You are a beacon of wonder for Oklahoma and the world." AMEN My Brother!!!


jefevt starstarstarstar Thu 1/11/2007 09:15PM
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I think most of you are being too hard on the girl. I saw one comment that stated that you were not even at the show. How the F do you know what the show was like. It's a SHOW review, not a BAND review. I think the worst thing that occurs in show reviews is the fact that people are afraid to write what they think, due mostly to people like you who will jump down someone’s throat just for having an opinion. I happen to know a lot of musicians who really appreciate it when someone doesn’t feel the show was up to par, and can be strong enough to tell them about it. That is how we grow.

I love the JFJO BTW. I have seen them before and I will see them again. Like most experimental music, it can have it’s good days and it can have it’s bad. I have paid a lot of money for bad shows from all sorts of people in the experimental realm. I have also been blessed with some great shows to. I think of it like buying lottery tickets. If you happen to be at the right place at the right time, you can win some of the time. It’s always worth it when you get a good show. I thank the band for still trying. I thank Gabrielle for still writing, and I thank you all for still paying attention. Just remember, don’t shoot the messenger.

Hotchkiss Fri 1/12/2007 02:32AM
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i love it when people aren't afraid to say a show wasn't up to par.

but i don't think the reviewer knows what par is in the fred world. honestly if this review was written by dennis cook or kayceman i would of been more understanding. not only do i trust thier honest opinions about music but thier better writers.

i can't help it if people take opinion in offense, but i didn't say it with bad intentions.

lovejahlive Fri 1/12/2007 10:50AM
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It seems like this review belonged somewhwere else,maybe in a newspaper where the audience was unfamiliar with the band.We all know this band because most of us have had the pleasure of listening to them live.Obviously the writer isn't in to them.Thats fine,an objective opinion is always welcome.My personal opinion is that even on their worst nite they are better than 95% of the other acts currently out there.When I first saw them ten years ago it changed my opinion about the direction the scene was taking.I love this band.

griffincrafts Fri 1/12/2007 04:36PM
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I feel that jam bands are defined by their audience, and not the music that they play.

How are all the bands that jambase covers related? Through us, the community of fans. It's not a style, it's not a sound, it's a common audience.

phishgrl23 star Sun 1/14/2007 01:16PM
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Friday night, jfjo started about 45 minutes late (stage set up and sound problems) and this reviewer STILL showed up way after they started. Need I say more?
I don't believe this reviewer is a music fan at all or she would have at least showed up on time.
Why review a show in the first place if you can't even show up before the band starts!? The comparisons she made to other bands shows she has never listened to Coltrane or Miles. Very narrow minded reviewer!

POOP8 starstarstar Mon 1/15/2007 09:10PM
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The Fred banterings on Rusty Belgrade's blog that BrotherCal mentioned is great! (simultaneously interesting and hilarious)

He gave you all the last 2 sentences; i'll give you the first: "I once consumed a bottle of water with three hits of LSD floating inside."

Amen to that as well..http://rustybelgrades.blogspot.com/

Andrew starstarstarstar Fri 1/26/2007 07:30PM
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I didn't get the impression that Gabriela Kerson was being disrespectful at all. I didn't jive well with "post-jam" either, but I truly enjoyed the write-up, it was honest, good-hearted, and well-written. With that said, Kerson brings up this interesting critique of JFJO, which is, that they are self-indulgent.

I am a fan of JFJO, nice guys, wonderfully technical and creative, but I think they are very difficult. At their best, they fuse accessibility with the avant in their music, and they always lean toward the latter. However, ehem, I am a drummer, just as Kerson says, musicians may love this band easily while casual listeners are left confused or dissapointed. My own tastes can pull a million subtleties out of their improvs... very, very good improvisers, these guys.

mokisgelstat star Thu 2/8/2007 10:53AM
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This is quite a poor review and not based on the opinions placed therein, but because of the lack of adjectives, comparisons, musical technique knowledge, musical history knowledge, music genre expertise (by the way, the genre is jazz and they are doing new things with it. they kind of give that away in the title of the band), and respect for the subject (ie: showing up late, misspelling artist's name). Its a shame that more and more reviews seem to lack in all these areas and I am a little disturbed that jambase doesn't focus on higher quality because soon it will just become like all the other album review blogs out there. Its obvious that this person doesn't make a living at reviewing shows, but putting forth an effort to at least sound professional would be nice. Also, if you consider the fact that when an artist is touring, that is their job 24/7. Meaning a two week break is very small in the scheme of things...and even during that two week break there is show planning involved, recording discussions, probably some shows in their home town that aren't advertised and collaborative projects. It hardly ever stops for a working musician. The thing I found interesting about the review is that we all have read many reviews by people trained to create them with vast knowledge in the subject matter. This may make them appreciate their subjects more at times, therefore providing them with a better review than they may deserve. So its somewhat refreshing to hear an outsiders perspective. Kind of reminds me of the time my father told me that The Dead suck because their songs are too long, although I didn't appreciate that as much. One last thing, can we please come up with another word for "bleeps?"

The1AndOnlyDJCT star Sat 2/24/2007 12:12PM
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I agree, this was a poor show review. Pretty much everything that needs to be said has been said already. Extremely unprofessional.