Performing over 150 dates a year, the road has allowed the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey to evolve organically, thus focusing their ability to improvise as a unit to near telepathic proportions. It's exactly this sensitivity to each other's playing that allowed the 13 compositions on Walking With Giants to flourish. The detailed improvisational nuances of songs like "Skeeball Over the Ocean," "Calm Before The Storm" and "Hover" could only be achieved through the band exploring the vast possibilities of the music night after night on stage.
"There was a long process of evolution for these tunes," states bassist Reed Mathis. "We had the opportunity to play and refine them for almost two years, which gave them the time to reach their full potential as compositions."
Jacob Fred's clear and decisive decision to record and tour acoustically, thus for the most part setting away their electric side, also played a major role in the band's evolution. New dynamics in sound presented themselves and were embraced wholeheartedly. They'd always been revered for utilizing the bass in modern and innovative ways, however, in the acoustic setting a new found tonal clarity seemingly released them to pursue a fresh improvisational course. Driven by Mathis's tweaked bass renderings "Lola & Alice" soars majestically, while "Son Of Jah" spirals madly between gravity and space, balanced by Haas and Smart's insistent rhythm. Mathis was also able to introduce the Sitar to the band's repertoire on "As It Will Be," while subtleties in Smart's percussion like that of "Nibbles" emerge like never before.
Fittingly, Walking With Giants, finds the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey joining HYENA, a label whose catalog includes James Blood Ulmer, Thelonious Monk, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Dr. John among others, validating the album's title in ways they had never imagined. But true to course, since their beginnings in Tulsa, it has always been an odyssey that's revealed itself with magical bits of self fulfilling prophecy and synergy along the way.
As Mathis concludes: "Walking With Giants was originally conceived during a hike in the Redwoods, just absorbing the ancientness and timelessness of the forest. But it also refers to our heroes in the music who paved the way for us to follow in the footsteps of this great tradition they've created, and the desire for our music to attain that same eternalness."
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is the sound of three fearless musicians in constant pursuit of elevation -- walking with giants and well on the path to becoming giants.