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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey.jpg


Status: Active
Origin: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Current Home:
Genre: JazzJazz Fusion
Years Active: 1994-Present
Labels: Accurate • Blue HornEdgeKnitting FactoryKufalareapandsow • Hyena • Kinnara • Royal Potato Family
Website: JFJO.com
Associated Acts: Boom ClapBrian HaasThe Brian Haas TrioCombsyGogo PlumbayLeslie BrownMummy WeenieThe NeighborsNolatetReed Mathis & Electric Beethoven • Billy & the Kids • The Golden Gate Wingmen • Marco Benevento Trio • Tea Leaf Green
Other Names: Jacob Fred Trio • Pimp Cocktail • The Sphere Jazz Quartet


Current Members:
Former Members:
Live Members:
Former Live Members:



Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, colloquially known as Jacob Fred, JFJO, or The Fred, is a band formed in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

History and Classifications[edit]

JFJO's music is not easily categorized; although it is mostly in the jazz idiom, it draws from hip hopfunk, and rock music. Critic Alex Henderson describes the band's music as a "mildly avant-garde blend of jazz, rock and funk [that] draws on a wide variety of influences... Often quirky, eccentric and abstract, JFJO favors an inside/outside approach but is usually more inside than outside.", while critic Scott Yanow describes the group as "fascinating".

Their live shows include compositions by John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Thelonious Monk among others, and include long experimental improvisations that, at times, could be considered atonal. Furthermore, the band's early years as an octet featured a strong hip hop influence.

1994—2000: Beginnings[edit]

The group began with different monikers and members in the early 90s, including founding members Brian Haas and Reed Mathis as well as Sean Layton, Dove McHargue, Matt Leland, & Kyle Wright. In 1994, after repeated viewings of This Is Spinal Tap and increased attendance at their shows, the band members agreed on "Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey" as the band's new name. "Jazz Odyssey" coming from a scene in the aforementioned Spinal Tap comedy film and "Jacob Fred" being what Haas wanted his unborn brother to be named at age 3.

By 2000, the group had become a trio, initially performing as the Jacob Fred Trio. Drummer Matthew Edwards left the group in early 2000. His replacement was Richard Haas, the brother of Brian, who performed with the group until October 2001.

Sean Layton had left the band in 1999 and joined Neighbors, which Reed Mathis was also a member of. On August 3, 2001, the band was devastated after Layton shot and killed himself, but vowed to continue on. In 2002, the band organized and released a compilation album, Sean Layton: A Musical Retrospective, in his remembrance.

Jason Smart joined in late October 2001, becoming a member of the band until 2007.

2004—2007: Walking with Giants & The Sameness of Difference[edit]

In 2004, the band released Walking with Giants, their first album with noted producer Joel Dorn's Hyena Records. Noteworthy for being JFJO's first studio album to contain acoustic piano, Walking with Giants was also the band's first studio album since 2000's Self is Gone.

2005 saw the release of their second album under Dorn and Hyena, The Sameness of Difference. This was the first release to include JFJO's uniquely arranged covers of songs by diverse contemporary musicians such as Björk and The Flaming Lips, as well as Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Wilson, and Neil Young. It also features original compositions.

Previously that same year, the band also released 4 Improvisations for the Ghosts, an almost ambient collection of live spontaneous music.

In 2006, they released the live compilation Tomorrow We'll Know Today: Live in USA and Europe as an online-only release.

The Fred toured little in 2007, as they spent a large amount of time working on their next record in the studio.

Drummer Joshua Raymer joined the band in June 2007, immediately getting his feet wet at Freihofer's Jazz Festival in Saratoga Springs, New York amongst others. The same year a live sampler of material from the September tour of 2007 was released as an online-only free EP under the title Rich Mahogany.

2008—2009: Lil' Tae Rides Again & Reed Mathis's Departure[edit]

2008 found the band touring predominantly as a quartet, behind their 2008 Hyena release Lil' Tae Rides Again, which was released in April of that year. "Lil' Tae" is considered a departure for JFJO, as it contains many electronic elements.

The band recorded the rough tracks for "Lil' Tae", then asked friend of the band and electronic music producer Tae Meyulks to remix the tracks to his liking; hence the album title.

Following the album's release, JFJO took Meyulks' creations and transcribed them for live performance, performing the album in its entirety night after night during a spring 2008 tour. An official live version, Lil' Tae Rides Again: Live was compiled and edited by the band, combining performances from Portland, Denver, and Tulsa, and released as a digital download to select vendors.

During the 2008 tours, the quartet lineup shifted depending on the tour, and was either Haas/Raymer/Mathis/Tomshany or Haas/Raymer/Combs/Tomshany. The band performed high-profile shows at venues such as the JVC Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island and Lincoln Center in NYC. In October 2008 the band returned to Europe as a trio (Haas/Mathis/Raymer). The tour brought great acclaim, including a Guinness Jazz Award for Best New Band at the Cork Jazz Festival.

This tour would prove to be the last full tour with founding member Mathis, who left to "pursue other musical endeavors." Regarding Reed's departure, Brian Haas explained: "It's real simple stuff‚ obvious stuff. Reed and I didn't have any drama. We were just tired of being around each other and tired of playing with each other. Zero drama and zero discussions. He and I both had the same idea on the same day—he wasn't fired and he didn't leave. It was a mutual thing that we communicated to each other on the same day‚ and we never looked back."

Two other trio shows were played on December 5 and 6, 2008 and they ended the year with a special New Year's Eve show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The band played their own set as well as a 'superjam' set with members of Callupsie & The Doldrums, featuring the music of Michael Jackson, Prince, and Lionel Richie.

The lineup of Haas/Raymer/Hayes/Combs made its debut at the NYC Winter Jazz Festival on January 10, 2009 to a packed house at Kenny's Castaways in New York City.

In early 2009, Jacob Fred formed their own record label, named Kinnara Records. The name Kinnara was chosen due to the members' strong identification with Buddhist and Hindu ideals. The half-bird, half-woman goddess Kinnara is representative of beauty, grace and accomplishment, and translates to "heavenly music" in Sanskrit.

On July 17, 2009, JFJO announced a cluster of seven nights in which they would be opening for Phish bassist Mike Gordon. The tour was set to run through venues in the Midwest, New England, and Ontario.

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey were winners of the 8th annual Independent Music Awards Vox Pop vote for best New Age Album Lil' Tae Rides Again.

2010—2013: Stay Gold & The Race Riot Suite[edit]

The first half of 2010 found JFJO touring both the West & East Coasts in the United States, as well as the entire month of March in Europe. In April the band announced that they were parting ways with bassist Matt Hayes and would be bringing on Kansas City resident Jeff Harshbarger as their new double bassist. Harshbarger made his JFJO premier on April 17 with two consecutive performances for Record Store Day and the release of the 7" vinyl single "The Sensation of Seeing Light".

The band also released their album, Stay Gold, as a CD & double vinyl on June 22. In support of the release the band toured with the new quartet lineup in June including dates at the Rochester International Jazz Festival and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The band had further plans for touring in September and October 2010 stretching from New Orleans to Louisville to Seattle to LA.

In early 2011, the group recorded The Race Riot Suite, about the Tulsa race riot of 1921, at Tulsa's Church Studio.

2014—2020: Millions & Worker[edit]

In Summer 2013, Haas, Josh Raymer, and Chris Combs began performing as a trio. Haas effectively became the band's bassist, now using a Moog bass keyboard to his left atop the piano.

During this time, the band reworked material dating back to 1994 and, in November 2013, recorded the album Millions: Live in Denver at DazzleJazz in Denver, CO. This vinyl only endeavor enjoyed a sold out release for Record Store Day 2014. The band had a successful American tour in support of this record from March 19 to June 21 of 2014.

JFJO's second release of 2014, Worker, came out in October 2014 through the label Royal Potato Family. It features strong electronic sound influences. The band toured to support the album, including a show at the famous Snug Harbor jazz club in New Orleans, Louisiana.

2015 saw the release of The Battle for Earth.

2021—Present: Winterwood[edit]

Former member Reed Mathis was going through his storage unit when he located a collection of CDRs containing numerous unreleased recordings from his days with Jacob Fred. Among them was the album Winterwood, which was recorded in 2008 before his departure. Due to his decision to leave the band, it was never released. There were also numerous live recordings.

Mathis decided to piece together the recordings and it was announced that the band would finally be releasing Winterwood. In addition, four live albums would also be released with each one representing a different theme: songwriting, improvisation, tradition, and intensive collaboration.

The release was announced with a near 30 minute documentary that covered the story behind the albums and the history of the band.



Studio Albums: 11
EPs: 4
Live Albums: 13
Remix Albums: 1
Compilations: 2
Other Appearances: 1


Studio Albums[edit]


Remix Albums[edit]

Live Albums[edit]

Note: JFJO has frequently released free audio recordings of live shows for download on their official website.

Compilation Albums[edit]

Other Appearances[edit]

External Links[edit]