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Published: 2008/04/24
by Pat Buzby

Lil Tae Rides Again – Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has mutated. When I last encountered them on 2004’s Walking With Giants, they had many quirks but still made music that sounded like Rudy Van Gelder could have recorded it (which seems to be a common litmus test for calling something “jazz” these days). Once the hazy opening seconds of “Autumnal” kick in, it’s clear that this is no longer the case.

Brian Haas bypasses the acoustic piano for most of this disc, and Reed Mathis’s bass is rarely detectable. New drummer Josh Raymer’s contributions take the form of fractured breakbeats rather than any brush or ride-centered jazz patterns. If the compositions have any jazz precursors, it’s in the work of composers such as Joe Zawinul who may have had a swing background but later departed from the realm of theme-solos-theme.

Lil Tae Rides Again is a concise series of aural events. “Tether Ball Triumph” is either a catchy piece of electronica or, if I’m in a more cynical mood, a piece that sounds like what you hear in movie theatres before the previews start. “Santiago Lends A Hand” features a rare encounter with handbells outside of church services. The closer “Goodnight Ollie” has a melancholy carousel feeling. Tracks change from one to the next subtly enough that keeping an eye on the CD player is required.

Without the ostentatious rhetoric of many of their contemporaries, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey continues a quiet but daring musical exploration. Ride on.

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