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

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Check out JamBase’s JFJO feature Forever Vernal here