Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Worker (2014)

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey - Worker (2014)
Artist: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Album: Worker
Label: The Royal Potato Family
Year Of Release: 2014
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Tracklist:
01. New Bird
02. Appropriation Song
03. Betamax
04. Hey Hey Nsa
05. Say Nothing
06. Council Oak
07. Bounce
08. Let Yourself Out
09. Mesa
10. Better Living Through Competitive Spirituality
11. The Finder’s Keeper

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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s 2014 effort, Worker, is the first studio album the group have recorded since paring down to a trio in 2013. The album also follows up the group’s vinyl-only Record Store Day release Millions: Live in Denver at DazzleJazz, and features the same lineup with longtime leader/pianist Brian Haas, guitarist/electronic programmer Chris Combs, and drummer Josh Raymer. On the group’s previous studio album, 2011’s Race Riot Suite, Haas and JFJO took a more eclectic, large ensemble approach, bringing on Sexmob trumpeter Steven Bernstein and others for an organic, free-jazz influenced vibe. On Worker, with the stripped-down trio, Haas takes the exact opposite approach, delving into a batch of tightly composed if no less groove- and jam-oriented songs. These are quirky, frenetic recordings that utilize a bevy of keyboard, organ, and guitar sounds as well as spacy electronics. Though clearly jazz-influenced, Haas and the JFJO have never been particularly interested in playing solo-oriented jazz, and Worker is no exception. Cuts like “Betamax,” and “Hey Hey NSA” have an ’80s-influenced, robot circus quality that’s one-part Herbie Hancock’s “Rock-It” and one-part sci-fi movie soundtrack. In that sense, Worker brings to mind the similarly inclined approach of bands like Kneebody, the Bad Plus, and Robert Glasper, as wells as the ’90s post-rock of band’s like Tortoise and Isotope 217. There’s also a strong experimental quality to many of the tracks on Worker and cuts like “Council Oak” and “Mesa,” with their mix of atmospheric sampled sounds, sound less like jazz or rock and more like ambient classical music. Ultimately, with Worker, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey continue to make it their business to craft intellectual, highly creative music that’s never a grind to listen to.

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