Celebrating two decades of defying genres and creating ceaselessly groundbreaking music, Tulsa-based Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is set to release Worker, their 26th album, on October 14 via Royal Potato Family. The 11-track effort marks the first studio recording from the current trio line-up featuring Brian Haas (keyboards, Moog bass), Chris Combs (guitar, lap steel), and Josh Raymer (drums). Worker is JFJO's second album of 2014 as they began the year by releasing Millions: Live In Denver, a Record Store Day exclusive LP, recorded at the esteemed jazz venue Dazzle in the mile-high city. The collection captured the band re-envisioning seven vintage songs from their repertoire that hadn't been performed in years. The limited edition vinyl pressing sold out in one day.
"Chris Combs and Josh Raymer started listening to Jacob Fred when they were in middle school," Haas explains. "To them, it's a language they grew up with and they want to push forward. When they joined, I was able to share ownership of that language. It's as much theirs as mine."
Musically, Worker is comprised of shorter, song-like compositions that incorporate cut-and-paste techniques and rhythmic deconstructionism, inspired by the band's fascination with experimental hip-hop and electronic music forms. Intertwined with their ongoing commitment to jazz, it effortlessly walks the line dividing composition and improvisation. Largely recorded live in the studio over two days, with minimal overdubs, the increased sonic responsibilities pushed each member to their limits. Haas generates bass tones on a Moog synthesizer with one hand while producing melodies, loops, and textures with the other. Combs presides over a guitar, lap steel, and two synthesizers. At the center of the storm, Raymer generates throbbing, stuttering rhythmic patterns as danceable as they are unexpected.
"We're listening to all this amazing stuff from other genres," Haas says. "And we had to ask: They're doing it with computers – are we good enough to do it with our instruments?"
The answer to that question is Worker: eleven new songs true to the ideal that's led them to where they stand today; that is to surge forward, fearlessly and freely, guided by their creative impulses. Visceral live music, played by sentient beings, Worker probes the nexus of modern and primitive, merging analog and digital with composition and improvisation. As it's been for 20 years, JFJO's musical instincts light the way on a perpetually-inspired jazz odyssey.
"I love changing; pushing my concept of what good music should be and pushing our fans' concept of what good music should be," Haas concludes. "I don’t want to make jazz or anything else — I just want to make great music."
JFJO Tour Dates
Oct. 8 - Norman, OK - The Deli
Oct. 9 - Austin, TX - The Parish
Oct. 11 - New Orleans, LA - Snug Harbor
Oct. 16 & 17 - Denver, CO - DazzleJazz
Oct. 18 - Santa Fe, NM - Santa Fe University of Art and Design
Oct. 21 - San Diego, CA - Winston's
Oct. 22 - Los Angeles, CA - The Mint
Oct. 23 & 24 - Oakland, CA - Duende
Oct. 25 - Nevada City, CA - Crazy Horse
Oct. 26 - Petaluma, CA - Zodiacs
Oct. 28 - Cottage Grove, OR - The Ax and Fiddle
Oct. 29 - Zig Zag, OR - Skyway Bar and Grill
Oct. 30 - Portland, OR - The Goodfoot
Oct. 31 - Olympia, WA - Rhythm and Rye
Nov. 1 - Seattle, WA - Earshot Jazz Festival
Nov. 10 - Columbus, OH - Dick's Den
Nov. 11 - Cleveland, OH - The Grog Shop
Nov. 13 - Cambridge, MA - The Lily Pad
Nov. 14 - New York, NY - Zinc Bar
Nov. 15 - Burlington, VT - Radio Bean