Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Four In One


Four in One


Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey


One Day in Brooklyn (Kinnara Records)

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Brian Haas (piano), Chris Combs (lap steel guitar), Matt Hayes (bass), Josh Raymer(drums)


Composed by Thelonious Monk


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, April 2009


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

In a way, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (JFJO) can be compared to NRBQ, each being an eclectic and playful jam band that draws from jazz, rock, and funk, and sports influences ranging from Thelonious Monk to Sun Ra. JFJO was formed in Tulsa, OK, in 1994, and in its new configuration adds "The Tulsa Sound" to its arsenal, as represented by artists such as Bob Wills and Woody Guthrie. At the start of 2009 the group was expanded from a trio to a quartet with the addition of Chris Combs on lap steel guitar, while bassist Matt Hayes replaced original bassist Reed Mathis. (There's never been a Jacob Fred in the group--that was just Haas's nickname in high school.) Combs' guitar helps give JFJO a refreshingly different sound, as heard for the first time on its new self-produced six-track EP, One Day in Brooklyn.

Haas plays Monk's "Four in One" theme liltingly, with subdued theremin-sounding background sighs from Combs' guitar and crisp, unvarnished rhythm support from Hayes and Raymer. Combs in a lyrical solo break takes his lap steel to the island of Hawaii, before Haas returns to moderately embellish the theme. Combs then resumes his improv, continuing to toy with the tune's melodic rather than harmonic structure, and eventually giving way again to Haas's equally thematic ruminations. Haas concludes by playing Monk's line once more in an appealingly light-touched manner. This is an unchallenging yet sonically fascinating take on "Four in One," not unlike the streamlined approach you might expect from Bill Frisell.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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