Monday, November 07, 2005

The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey


Live 25/08/2005 Café-Du-Nord

Set List

  1. Halliburton Breakdown
  2. Improvisation
  3. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
  4. The Maestro
  5. Nibbles
  6. Isobel
  7. The Spark That Bled
  8. Son Of Jah
  9. Wonderful
  10. Tomorrow We’ll Live Today
  11. Santiago
  12. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
  13. The Slip
  14. Sean’s Song
  15. The Time Is Now
  16. Naima
  17. In Your Own Sweet Way
  18. Fables Of Faubus


Brian Haas; Electric Piano
Reed Mathis; Electric Bass
Jason Smart; drums

Ok, ok, so jazz is a serious business. But every once in a while, I need to listen to something that lightens the mood somewhat. And here are a trio who are capable of doing just that. There really is nothing like listening to a bunch of guys having fun up there on stage to make you feel good.

It’s worth spending a few minutes pointing out where this recording came from. This most generous group has made several complete live shows available for download on the internet in a variety of formats (I chose the ‘mp3 VBR’ option which is a nice compromise between size and fidelity and took half an hour or so to download on my 1Mb connection), at - just type 'Jacob Fred' into the search box to access a selection of live recordings. I was attracted in by the cover versions; ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ was a recent free mp3 on, and to be honest it’s been crying out for a jazz treatment for a very long time. They’re just as accomplished putting a new spin onto pop material such as the above and Bjork’s ‘Isobel’ as they are at classic jazz like John Coltrane’s exquisite ‘Naima’.

There’s so much more to this group than quirky covers, though. Their own material really does match up to the covers. Their style is firmly rooted in jazz, being improvisational throughout, but also brings in elements of other musics. Much of this recording is funky, and at times you could even say it rocks out - especially on the bass solos - I never knew the bass guitar could be played so high, and so well. The occasional use of harmonica, and the exaggerated sense of space in some pieces (‘The Slip’, for example) suggests a dub influence. These guys really are all over the musical map.

It’s a simple enough set-up. Electric piano, electric bass, drums. They’re not afraid to use a few effects either, the dirty piano solo on ‘Halliburton Breakdown’ being a case in point. The music is always funky, though at times the playing can be quite free - not dissonant, but just heading out where it wants to go, unencumbered by convention.

Take a look at their official website.

No comments: