Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is a jazz band from Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. JFJO is an improvisational quartet featuring Brian Haas on piano and keyboards, Josh Raymer on drums, Chris Combs on lap steel and Jeff Harshbarger on upright bass. They originally formed in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1994 as an octet. The only remaining original member is Haas. Haas and Reed Mathis, the group's bassist for over a decade, formed a trio with Matthew Edwards in early 2000. Brian Haas' brother, Richard also played with the band as a drummer for a period before they found former Ray's Music Exchange drummer, Jason "Jah" Smart. Original drummer and co-founder Sean Layton passed away in 2001. Midway through 2007, Joshua Raymer replaced Jason Smart as the group's drummer. Mathis amicably parted ways with the Fred in 2009 to play with Tea Leaf Green and Marco Benevento. To replace Mathis, Matt Hayes and Chris Combs joined JFJO to form a quartet.
Despite all of the line-up changes, Jacob Fred has spent the past decade relentlessly touring the U.S. with their unique style of improvisational music. One of the most notable aspects of their music is Mathis’ innovative use of the bass guitar as a lead instrument. Mathis uses a combination of delay, volume swells, and digital octave shifting to take the instrument to new levels. JFJO, or “The Fred," are well-known for their high energy shows and constantly transforming sound from album to album. They are often likened to other modern jazz pioneers such as Medeski, Martin and Wood and The Bad Plus.
JFJO has released nineteen albums, many of which are live recordings while some others are rare out-of-print early releases. Their album, The Sameness of Difference, was the second JFJO recording to be released by Hyena Records. It was also produced by Joel Dorn, who has produced hundreds of albums by artists such as Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Another well known release is titled "Tomorrow We'll Know Today", which is a digital download exclusive. It is available only through iTunes and other digital music retail services.
JFJO released "Winterwood," a full length album largely considered to be the band's strongest and most cohesive effort to date, in 2008 for free on the band's website.
JFJO's newest effort, Stay Gold, is currently available through Kinnara Records and features the One Day in Brooklyn line-up. Upright bassist Jeff Harshbarger later replaced Matt Hayes in 2010.
Jacob Fred's 'Ludwig' project, a reinterpretation of Beethoven's 3rd and 6th symphonies for a jazz quartet with a 50-piece orchestra, premiered in June 2010 to much avail at the OK Mozart Festival in Bartlesville, OK. The performance was professionally documented on video.
JFJO is currently working on their 20th album, The Tulsa Race Riot Suite, consisting of compositions written by Chris Combs for the current quartet accompanied by a horn section consisting of Sex Mob's Steven Bernstein, Jeff Coffin (of Dave Matthews and Bela Fleck fame), Mark Southerland (Snuff Jazz, Urban Noise Camp), Peter Apfelbaum, and JFJO alumnus Matt Leland. The album is dedicated to the victims of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, the largest race riot in United States history.
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