Although they’ve had several different lineups over the course of their over 20 years of existence, the Tulsa, OK-based jazz act Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey have been remarkably consistent, developing and firmly cementing a reputation for being relentlessly experimental and genre defying, as well as being incredibly prolific. Worker, which is slated for an October 14 release through renowned experimental jazz label Royal Potato Family, will be the band’s 26th album and second this year.
Worker also marks a couple of milestones for the band. The album is the first full-length effort of new, original material featuring the band’s new line-up – Brian Hass (keyboards, Moog bass), Chris Combs (guitar, lap steel and synths) and Josh Rayner (drums) but it also manages to mark the band’s continued interest in experimental hip-hop and electronic music. In fact, the album’s compositions incorporate cut and paste techniques – all while revealing each musician’s technical adeptness and agility. Recorded in two days with minimal overdubs, Haas generated bass tones on a Moog synthesizer with one hand while producing melodies, loops, and textures with the other; Combs switched between a guitar, lap steel, and two synthesizers; and Rayner holds the material together with skittering and propulsive rhythms. In fact, on “Betamax,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming album, the composition is comprised of a tight, circular dub-like groove that’s not only danceable, it sounds as though it could easily rattle the tweeters and subwoofers of a gigantic car stereo.
Interestingly, after repeated listens the track reminded me quite a bit of Josh Roseman Unit’s Treats for the Nightwalker and Super Hi-Fi’s Dub the Bone as both of those albums managed to defy established jazz conventions while still lovingly acknowledging jazz’s traditions.