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The Sameness of Difference by Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Whether Medeski, Martin & Wood inspired a whole bunch of performers and bands, whether MM&W’s popularity (and that of jam bands) opened the doors of opportunity, or it’s just coincidence, but there’s a "wave" that yet has no glib, critic-endorsed label. Regardless, the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is a forceful/memorable ripple in that wave.

Superficially, they’re a "piano trio" but being relative youths, JFJO (together for over 10 years) are not averse to using electronics to enrich their palette. But fear not, old-school-ers, the talent is mos def there, but these cats refuse to be hemmed-in by established modes of thinking - this is not "fusion" in the usual sense, but jazz informed with variety of subtly-woven contemporary influences. For instance, there are no renditions of "Stella By Starlight," "Alone Together," or the myriad, hackneyed, so-we-don’t-need-to-rehearse-much standards - the "standards" are of more recent (pop) vintage, like "Have You Ever Been To Electric Ladyland" and "Happiness Is A Warm Gun," along with originals and "standards" from the jazz continuum (Brubeck’s "Sweet Way," Mingus’ "Faubus"). Ah, their originals: "The Maestro," with its angularity, push/pull rhythms, wry dissonance, and droll humor recalls T. Monk and (especially) Herbie Nichols. "The Spark That Bled" combines the elegant, whimsical tunefulness of Vince Guaraldi with the pointed percussive-ness of Don Pullen - and it works. Each of the 13 selections here is as long as it needs to be - no water-treading or self-absorbed "explorations" of sound and silence.

Oh, wait, I forgot to "spotlight" the players - but I don’t have to. You can look at the musician-credits above, and most importantly, JFJO play as a unit, as a band, not like a bunch of (potential) soloist/leaders. The trio is "a" serious contender - listen to them.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
  • CD Title: The Sameness of Difference
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Hyena
  • Musicians: Brian Haas (acoustic piano), Reed Mathis (bass, effects), Jason Smart (drums) Produced by Joel Dorn
  • Rating: Four Stars
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