Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey re-awakens on April 8 with Lil Tae Rides Again, their most experimental, idiosyncratic and mind-expanding album yet. The new recording–the band’s fourth on HYENA Records and first studio effort in three years–will surprise even those predisposed to JFJO’s mercurial nature. Electronic music eccentric Tae Meyulks was called upon to produce. He and JFJO tracked, arranged, mixed and mastered the album at his Tulsa studio over the course of 2007. Additionally during this period, founding members Brian Haas and Reed Mathis amicably parted ways with longtime drummer Jason Smart, filling the slot with 22-year old Josh Raymer. The 11 tracks on Lil Tae Rides Again find the Tulsa-based trio sculpting ambient soundscapes characterized by dreamlike atmospherics, minimalist melodies and subliminally diametrical themes.
"The entire record was made in a 100-plus year old warehouse in the oldest part of Tulsa called The Bricks. The warehouse itself is completely stuck in time and is an eerie museum of random artifacts dating back to the early 1900s. Just walking into this space fills you with a strange feeling of paranormal activity. The walls speak of many lives come and gone," explains Haas. "All of these unique factors influenced the music. Reed, Josh and I had been listening to a lot of Boards of Canada, Panda Bear, Brian Eno, Susumu Yokota, things like that. Tae Meyulks has an immense interest in the psychedelic effects of sleep deprivation. He’d stay up for days at a time operating this difficult music software in various altered-states, while deconstructing and reassembling what we’d recorded."
After finishing 2006 with two sold out shows at The Blue Note in New York City, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey went on hiatus. They appeared for only a handful of select tour dates and summer festivals in 2007. Rumors circulated among fans regarding the trio’s decision to curtail its touring schedule. Brian Haas virtually disappeared from the national music scene. Reed Mathis, on the other hand, was ubiquitous, playing bass with the likes of Steve Kimock, Marco Benevento and The Greyboy Allstars. Internally, however, JFJO’s future was never in question. Haas and Mathis simply took the band underground to create music on their own terms, in their own universe and on their own timetable.
"This was an experience we needed to have. Tae Meyulks completely took us through the looking glass. We were almost like helpless little babies in his arms," states Mathis. "From the first day, right up until the record was done, I can honestly say I had absolutely no idea what the result would sound like. I thought I’d been through a process of discovery before, but this was a whole other thing. Because of that, we’re more proud of it than anything we’ve ever done."
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey vows to maintain a higher profile in 2008. A West Coast tour to coincide with the release of Lil Tae Rides Again is scheduled for April. It will culminate with a handful of performances in New Orleans during Jazzfest. Tours of the Midwest, East Coast and Europe are in the works for later in the year. Additionally, JFJO are already planning the follow-up to Lil Tae Rides Again, which will be produced by Reed Mathis.
As has been their method since first forming over 14 years ago, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey define themselves through a constant state of re-imagining their creative horizons. The beauty in JFJO’s self-definition is that they are utterly un-definable. Lil Tae Rides Again, but better still, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey rides again.