BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
A couple of weekends ago, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey played
a handful of Tulsa gigs in which they barely included any
of the songs on their new album, "Welcome Home," released
"We did three sets of all new material except two from
'Welcome Home,' " said keyboardist Brian Haas. "We've just
got that much new stuff. It just keeps coming."
That kind of spirit and production rate after five hard
years together as Tulsa's most unique jazz-funk fusion band
is what impressed Russ Gershon to sign the Jacob Fred Jazz
Odyssey to his independent record label.
"It boggles my mind that this group has held together,
playing mainly with each other and evolving as a group as
opposed to going off to the big city and playing with hot
shots," said Gershon, head of Massachusetts-based Accurate
Records. "These guys stuck together and pulled it up to a
really high level without losing a sense of fun."
The seven members of Jacob Fred started sending tapes of their
music to Accurate about four years ago. The first Medeski,
Martin and Wood album — a band to whom Jacob Fred is
frequently compared — was released on Accurate, so that
seemed like a logical place to start. Gershon has his own
innovative band called the Either Orchestra, and he picked
up on the band's outstanding sound.
"It was just odd enough," Gershon said of hearing Jacob
Fred's first self-produced CD, "Live at the Lincoln
Continental." "Of all the tapes that are sent to me, I
listened to this one. I liked it. It had great energy. I
called them back — or maybe Brian called me — and they sent
me another one. It was even better. We talked about what
was next for them, and I said I'd put the next one out."
As a musician himself, Gershon said he appreciates the
band's efforts to keep jazz interesting and dangerous.
"They have such a sense of abandon, which is very
important these days," Gershon said. "You hear a lot of
jazz-funk that's trying to sound tight and just sounds dry.
These guys are loose as free improvisors. They have fun
when they're playing. There's a lot of music where people
are too damn serious — not about their efforts but their
message. These guys' message is that you can be a serious
player and still have fun. In fact, it's better to have fun
because that's the only way a musician can survive. Having
fun doesn't mean you have to be sloppy musician. Jacob Fred
has a looseness I associate with my early Miles Davis
"Welcome Home" hit shelves across the country on Tuesday.
Accurate's other credits include the first Morphine
album, as well as six CDs for the Either Orchestra.
Jacob Fred plays a show Thursday at Club One to
celebrate the CD release. Earlier reports noted a cover
charge for the show, but admission will be free.
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Club One, 3200 Riverside Drive in the Place One
Tickets: No cover charge
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.