In the last 15 years or so, an ever-growing contingent of authentically creative, forward-thinking artists has been dragging jazz out of the doldrums, often fusing traditional elements of the genre with funk, rock and electronica.
A point of pride for Oklahoma is that Tulsa-based jazz outfit Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey " an atypical piano trio " has been among this vanguard.
This weekend, JFJO will play at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in Tulsa on Friday and as the headliners at Groovefest in Norman on Sunday.
At times, the group can feel very progressive, boasting a somewhat avant-garde approach. But then they'll explode in a funk improvisation that brings the house down. In recent years, JFJO has focused more energy on dramatically reworking jazz standards, thereby linking to the past while pushing ahead through relentless experimentation.
Bassist Reed Mathis has been with the band since it formed back in 1994. He said the shows this weekend will allow fans to "really get the yin and yang of the ensemble."
Friday's concert will cater to the more traditionalist hall-of-fame crowd and will be a primarily acoustic affair, with the band playing classics by Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, while Sunday's Groovefest performance will be mostly electric.
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Andrews Park Amphitheater in Norman. For more info, visit their site. "Dave Bond