The Sameness of Difference – Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Hyena Records 9343
In their 12th year as a group, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey continues to tap their seemingly endless creative well. On their most recent release, The Sameness of The Difference this is undeniable. Working with producer Joel Dorn, JFJO put together a veritable collage of covers and originals in one long session at Sear Sound studios. As a result, and thanks to proper tracking, the arrangements flow fluidly from one to the next.
Not looking at a track list, the only interruption might be taking a moment to recognize the familiar melodies of covers such as "The Spark that Bled" (Flaming Lips) or "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," (The Beatles). On the former, pianist Brian Haas's graceful dynamics, coupled with bassist Reed Mathis and drummer Jason Smart's solid groove exemplify the tightness of this group's interpretation of the classic. It's a minimalist version of an otherwise decadent original, and it works. On The Beatles' tune, Mathis lends the chorus his signature modulated bass sound, while Haas's lilting chords provide the perfect anchor.
Their originals display their craft for composition; in particular "The Maestro," where Smart's finesse on the drums really shines. He has a knack for subtlety that makes him one of the best touring jazz drummers of the moment. "Santiago" and "Davey's Purple Powerline" are also stand out originals.
While The Sameness of The Difference doesn’t contain the kind of sprawling improvisations you’d find in a JFJO show, there’s something to be said for this more concise approach. Their musical ideas are much more powerful in this condensed form. All in all, it’s a masterful studio effort by a band that continues to garner the majority of their support on tour.