The idea of how one should “expect the unexpected” is maybe a played out cliche, and one that I admit to using a lot to describe songs or albums by bands that offer a bit of adventure. In this case, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey are a jazz group who are adventurous, but fans have come to expect that adventure in everything that they do. If that’s a nicer way of saying “expect the unexpected”, so be it. On their brand new One Day In Brooklyn (Kinnara/The Royal Potato Family) the group have expanded for a moment to a quartet, adding Chris Combs on lap steel to add new twists to their always-changing approach to music.
Let’s get The Beatles reference out of the way, because there is one here. The new album features a well-arranged rendition of “Julia”, expanded from the song’s original 2:54 length to an incredible 7 minutes, where it at times sounds like those luxurious George Shearing-type albums from the early 60’s. Brian Haas has always been brilliant on the piano, but here he just takes the emotion and sentiment of the song and brings it home. But then the group wants to open the door to their “home” and start exploring.
“Country Girl” has the group mixing up jazz with a nod to country with the help of Combs and his lap steel guitar, but at one point the lap steel goes into a completely different direction and it sounds like a Mellotron. Psychedelic prog rock jazz? I don’t know, but the moment in the song when it makes that shift, it’s exciting to hear and feel but… is that the unexpected or simply expecting the “anything goes” attitude of this group? Their renditions of Abdullah Ibrahim‘s “Imam” and Rahsaan Roland Kirk‘s “The Black & Crazy Blues/A Laugh For Rory (For Joel Dorn)” (from Kirk’s The Inflated Tear album) are moving and will definitely appeal to fans of these two great jazz journeyman, for Haas, Josh Raymer (drums), and Matt Hayes (bass) have been a part of this exploration too, now joined by Combs.
It’s being promoted as an EP, but at 35 minutes this is legally a full length LP. But if the JFJO continue to make music like this, the format is of course important. For years the group have often been compared to modern jazz trios, but these guys are in their own league, their fans have known this for years. If the music on this is meant to represent One Day In Brooklyn, I think it would be a beautiful place to live in and be inspired to create.