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The J. & F. Band is a group which combines improvisational elements of jazz and the electricity (literally) of rock, while never quite becoming jazz rock, and they recently released their spontaneously recorded debut From The Roots To The Sky, a masterclass in both styles. The core of the band is centered around, Jaimoe, famous as the drummer of the Allman Brothers Band, and bass veteran Joe Fonda along with a handful of Italian jazz musicians and other guests. Obviously, a big selling point of the album is Jaimoe’s name, but a wonderful part about it is that it actually sounds like a democratic effort with equal input from all contributors.
With the shortest track just under eight minutes long, and the longest nearing the thirty minute mark, there is a lot worth dissecting in the album. The songs definitely lean toward the avant jazz side of the spectrum, but there are surprising moments of clear lucidity like “The Spirit of the Great Plains” and even outright beauty as on “Gone Too Soon.” Some of the greatest moments however are when the band sound as if they’re deconstructing popular music genres like the wildly fun “Dixie Chicken/Mischief.” From The Roots To The Sky is a challenging listen to say the least, but the high level of skill from the performers and the hidden depths it conceals also make it one of the most rewarding.
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