Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey & Mike Dillon’s Band of Outsiders 3.20.14

Hodi's Half Note
Fort Collins, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)
Audio By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings)

I first saw the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at the inaugural Summer Camp Music Festival in 2001. I finally got a chance at round two thirteen years later at Hodi’s Half Note. The show was a co-bill giving ample opportunity for collaboration. They filled up the stage with both sets of instruments ready for play. The format was a round robin with both groups performing two shorter intermingled sets with a super jam to close. The music started just before 10 PM with Dillon.

Mike Dillon’s Band of Outsiders is an unstoppable locomotive that pushes through the music without much elaboration. Focusing on a darker style jazz that at times includes elements of rock, punk, funk, and general dissonance this group has an incredibly eclectic sound. Mr. Dillon dedicated the song “Rock Star Bench Press” to a friend who was there for the show. This song assaulted the senses in every good way possible. Dillon treated us to a few tracks off his forthcoming album Band Of Outsiders, including “Hero The Burro.”

“Alright now we’re gonna play the Mother Fucker song for you… you know what to do.” – Mike Dillon

The four-piece band is made of Dillon on the vibraphone, Carly Meyers on trombone and auxiliary percussion, Adam Gertner on drums, and Patrick McDevitt on bass. Carly is a huge focal point on the stage as she wildly dances between the instruments. Plus you know she plays a mean trombone. Their two sets of music were absolutely sublime. If you are looking for some ‘punch you in the face’ jazz Mike Dillon has what you are craving.

The Mike Dillon Band Live at Hodi's Half Note on March 20, 2014.

While Mike Dillon was exiting backstage, keyboardist Brian Haas of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey literally leaped onto the front of the stage and began playing. And that was how it went for the night. There were no set breaks and the music of both bands bled into each other until they finally fused properly during the ‘superjam’ set. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey now performing as a trio has had many incarnations since their initial formation in 1994. Brian Haas is the only founding member still touring with JFJO. Perhaps people remember that JFJO is where Tea Leaf Green’s bassist Reed Mathis got his start. In fact, they gained their most notoriety and critical success as a trio in 2000 before returning to a larger configuration. Chris Combs (guitar and lap steel) joined in 2009 and Josh Raymer (drums) joined in 2007. These two make up the rest of the current lineup. Musically they are straight jazz with a higher level of refinement than Dillon’s rowdy party. Focusing on the avant-garde and how to interject elements of funk and rock within that improvisational framework. Brian and company have held true to the musical roots of JFJO. They continue to tighten up and develop, but this band is as intriguing and versatile as when I saw them almost a decade and a half ago.

Mike Dillon and friends joined Jacob Fred for one final blast through the jazz canyon. The stage became a massive melting pot of the smooth JFJO sound and the boisterous Band Of Outsiders. The night ended with a vocal rap on “Jazz Millions” lead by Mike Dillon with eerily amazing sounds emanating from Brian Haas’s keyboard. This was a great night of jazz in Fort Collins. The pairing of JFJO and Mike Dillon was brilliant. Dillon and Meyers will again be at Telluride Jazz Festival this year, so they will both be back in Colorado soon. As for Jacob Fred, I hope it’s not another ten plus years before I get the chance to see them perform again.

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