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OGJB Quartet - Ode to O (TUM)

18 January 2022

Saxophonist Oliver Lake, bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Barry Altschul all have long careers in free and avant-garde jazz, while cornetist Graham Haynes helped pioneer the fusion of jazz and electronica. These veteran heavy hitters bring all of their talents to bear on Ode to O, their second album together at the OGJB Quartet. Given each individual’s background, it’s no surprise that the songs frequently visit the outer limits: “The Other Side,” “OGJB #3” and “Justice” let Lake and Haynes fly free, as Fonda and Altschul keep the horns grounded while still squeezing the rhythm until it bleeds. But the musicians don’t neglect melody, either – “Caring” and “Apaixonado” stick to close harmony lines for the trumpet and sax, even as the drums roam briskly underneath. The opening title track may well be the album’s most focused statement, with its (relatively) accessible melody and spectacular solos from Lake and Fonda, but “The Me Without Bella” stands as its apotheosis, moving from anarchic intensity to near-orchestral harmony over the course of twelve minutes. It would be extremely difficult for these players to create bad music in the first place, but it’s clear on Ode to O the extra inspiration they take from each other’s presence.