‘From the Roots to the Sky’ embraces the experimental side of jazz wonderfully
“From the Roots to the Sky” by the J. & F. Band is a testament to preserving the best parts of what came before us while at the same time celebrating some newer musical developments, with new a relative term.
The album opens with an easygoing number that from the outside feels like watching The Man waltz through the door of your favorite establishment. The Man, The Head Honcho, The Top Dog — you know him if you’ve seen or heard him.
With the simple yet funky stylings, the layered tones that all work to complement each other after the opening bass solo that works to set the tone, if you’re still unsure as to what kind of music you’ll be expecting on this record, you might want to get your ears checked.
That said, there ARE a few surprises here. Several songs treat us to an electric guitar solo or two, something that a traditional jazz record wouldn’t dare attempt. It works here, though, and the reason it works is because each of these musicians on this album have an undeniable talent that gives them a chance to do almost anything musically. If they want to grab electric instruments and rock it out? Cool, sounds good. If they want to emulate Miles Davis while at the same time paying tribute to the great trumpet icon, sweet, they can do that too, maybe within the same song.
According to their online bio, The J. & F. Band came together “as a project born out of many coincidences,” it states.
Producer Fabrizio Perisinotto and Joe Fonda, a master bass player (from the jazz and avant jazz world) were talking when they first met years ago about their favorite record ever and Fabrizio mentioned his was “Live at Fillmore” by The Allman Brother Band. Joe went on to say “…man, I know Jaimoe, one of the drummers of the Allman Brothers very well! We have played a good bunch of live gigs together over the years!”. One thing led to another and over the last few years the band came together naturally. Joe and Jaimoe are now backed by an ensemble of master musicians coming specifically from Italy that Fabrizio and Fonda have painstakingly put together.
Jazz purists might be put off by the rock undertones here, but, the real beauty of REAL jazz is that anything is on the table as long as it’s authentic and unique in its own way. That streak of experimentation is exactly what makes it one of the most interesting of all musical genres because you’re never totally 100 percent sure what you might hear from one song to the next.
“Roz See You on the Moon,” for instance feels like the soundtrack to, as the title implies, stepping onto a celestial body and exploring the outer universe. More than anything, though, it’s a fun journey that at times hints at danger while at other times feels a little on the goofy side. It’s tough to explain other than you just have to hear it yourself.
Perhaps the only real criticism I can offer on this album is that each of the tracks are well longer than your typical radio hit — the shortest song on “From the Roots to the Sky” is 7:40, while the longest is a meaty 28:06. If you’re going to put in the time to hear this full album, you’re going to commit to a full half a day to do so, but, you won’t be disappointed, there’s not a bad track on here.