First things first. There is no person named Jacob Fred and the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey was actually formed by keyboardist Brian Haas and electric bassist Reed Mathis, who doubles on guitar. Haas and Mathis were both classically trained but more interested in playing their own quirky version of modern jazz. They came together in Tulsa, Oklahoma in Feb. 1994, forming a group whose influences include everyone from John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix and Sun Ra. Mixing together modern jazz with rock and funk, the JFJO originally had a two- or three-piece horn section and a guitarist. By 2000 they were a trio, which for a little while was known as the Jacob Fred Trio before that became their permanent lineup. Sean Layton, Matthew Edwards, Richard Haas and Jason Smart all played drums for the group at various times, with its current drummer being Joshua Raymer, joining Haas and Mathis. The group has opened for Al Di Meola and Sound Tribe Sector 9 and its music ranges from avant-garde explorations to groove music, with Mathis’ bass guitar being used as a lead instrument. The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has recorded for a variety of labels starting in 1995 with Live at the Lincoln Continental. Welcome Home was put out in 1999 by the Accurate label and caused a stir. After a Knitting Factory release in 2002 (All Is One: Live in New York City), the group really gained attention with its three releases for Hyena, starting with 2004’s Walking With Giants, and the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has long been a popular group on the festival and club circuit.
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