For this 35-minute CD/EP, the new version of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey wends through six tracks reflecting diverse influences, their Tulsa, OK roots, and the youth-oriented jam band stance that has held up well over two decades of playing progressive and contemporary jazz. Longtime bassist Reed Mathis has been replaced by the strictly acoustic Matt Hayes, Chris Combs joins in on lapsteel guitar, Jason Smart is out and Josh Raymer is in as the drummer. Founding member Brian Haas sticks exclusively to acoustic piano for this set of music that pays tribute to country & western-flavored jazz via compositions by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Thelonious Monk, and Abdullah Ibrahim, sidled with three originals from the band that also showcase these broad elements working together in concert with hard bop syncopations and heavier beats. Haas is just about as underrated as a modern jazz pianist can be, but capably proves his mettle time after time. His arrangement of the combo Kirk bill "The Black & Crazy Blues/A Laugh for Rory (For Joel Dorn)" pits pop-R&B yin against Southern twang yang, strutting to swinging with lots o' laptop from Combs, thoroughly entertaining and challenging. Monk's "Four in One" has Haas playing angular lines very effectively as you hear a playful Combs lagging behind in a truth-or-consequences mood. The curveball selection of Ibrahim's "Imam" is rocked and jammed out in a simplistic, far-from-South-African-spiritual-village melody. Of the originals, "Country Girl" has a natural down-home feeling, rambling or tripping in 6/8 time, urged on by the two-fisted piano of Haas, but downshifting, then pumped back up to rock proportions. "Drethoven" is clearly a pulse-driven hybrid of drama and style, emphasizing the caveat that JFJO did, in fact, precede the Bad Plus. Finally. there's the pretty and somewhat reserved "Julia," showing that Haas and his mates are quite fond of the tenderest moments. The new band sounds a quite bit different with the electric aspect removed and a roots-Americana aspect inserted. Fear not dear JFJO fan, for remember this is but one day in Brooklyn, yet another aspect to the fertile mind of the inventive Haas and his whirring, changeling mind. As it stands, this version of the group remains very, very good, with more new horizons to conquer.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos