BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Tulsa's own Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is about to launch
an exhaustive national tour, circling the continent in a
few months and headlining some of the country's premier
improvisational music venues.
"Two nights ago, Eric (Gerber, the band's new Los Angeles
manager) read me just the confirmed stuff. It's
unbelievable," said JFJO bassist Reed Mathis this week.
The band's summer tour — it's fifth national go-round --
will consist of 52 concerts, taking them to headlining gigs
in New York City and Boston, south to Memphis, through
Tulsa ("We might actually get one day off here at home,"
Mathis said) on their way to a week of shows in Colorado
and points west. They'll return in time to play the
Greenwood Jazz Festival in August.
The band is still riding the acclaim of its third album --
the first to reach a national audience — "Welcome Home" on
Massachusetts-based Accurate Records. The May issue of Jazz
Times hit the streets this week with a story about the
nation's improvisational music scene focuses on seven
bands, including Phish, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and
Medeski, Martin and Wood.
"Things have really started changing," Mathis said. "I did
a Web search of radio playlists the other day. We're
getting played alongside Zappa; Medeski, Martin and Wood;
and Mingus. These people haven't seen us live. They just
assume we're huge because they can get our record now. ...
Plus, people are recognizing the music now. At a recent
show in Chicago, Matt (Edwards, drummer) started the beat
to `Seven Inch Six' from `Welcome Home,' and people started
clapping and cheering."
Fans have begun to tape shows, too — just like
"And that's fine, 'cause we're an improvisational band.
If you have 'Welcome Home' and three bootlegs of our shows,
you've got four completely different records, really."
This weekend's all-ages show will feature some of the
band's newest material, which Mathis said is on a new level
from the band's work thus far.
"Like Mingus or Ellington, we've begun to write for the
band we're in, instead of just creating music and making
each guy fit it and not the other way around," he said.
"We're able now to conceptualize the parts for the people,
to give each player the chance to show his strengths."
Like most Odyssey members, Mathis has plenty of extra
work on the side. In addition to playing in the Jacob Fred
Trio (each Wednesday night at the Bowery), he plays in the
Neighbors with local blues legend and Spot Music Award
winner Steve Pryor. Expect to see a Neighbors CD released
within the next month, featuring Pryor chiefly on pedal
steel and some very un-blues music, including covers of
John Coltrane and Eddie Harris.
Catch Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey while they're home, playing
at 8 p.m. Saturday at The Delaware, 1511 S. Delaware Ave.
It's an all-ages show, and the Western Champs — an
eight-member band featuring some former Blue Collars — open
the show. Tickets are $5 at the door.
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.