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Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey The Race Riot Suite

Performing Arts

Photo: Jeremy Charles
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
The Race Riot Suite
Sat, May 12, 2012 8 PM
"A beautifully orchestrated, melodically rich piece that celebrates Greenwood as much as it laments the wanton violence that destroyed the neighborhood.”—Boston Globe

Tulsa’s Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey features a core quartet of Brian Haas on piano, Chris Combs on lap steel, Jeff Harshbarger on bass, and drummer Josh Raymer. These musicians regularly tap into the roots of their musically rich region to inform their forward-thinking sound. Their tour-de-force Race Riot Suite has garnered critical raves for the savvy way it draws from the traditions of the great Territory jazz bands of the 1920s and 1930s while focusing on the infamous 1921 Tulsa race riot that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of black Tulsans and the destruction of an entire city district, the prosperous Greenwood community, then known as the black Wall Street.

Written, arranged, and orchestrated by Chris Combs, the suite (which was released on CD last year) is performed here by JFJO joined by guest tenor sax player Mark Southerland and a horn section from Ohio State’s School of Music.

Here are excerpts from two more raves for The Race Riot Suite.

”The 12-part suite pinballs between majestic melodies, free improv, and ragged New Orleans rhythms, sometimes all within the same song.... Expect a heavy dose of history, but an even heavier dose of forward-looking, down-home jazz.”—Time Out New York

"Rather than simply evoking Greenwood’s destruction, however, the suite encompasses the region’s creative ferment.... The score captures the energy of Greenwood's fervent churchgoers and the rollicking territory dance bands that crisscrossed the Southwest."—Los Angeles Times

By the way, if you remember the Wexner Center's 2010 Mark Bradford exhibition, you might be interested to know that Bradford's 2006 painting Scorched Earth, which was featured in the show, was inspired by the same 1921 race riot in Tulsa. Here's a bit more historical background, from the interpretive material of the Bradford show: Over the course of three days, a rumor of an assault on a young white woman inflamed racial tensions and ended in the virtual destruction of Greenwood, home to Tulsa’s black community, which had previously been one of the most successful in the country. A mob of thousands of white men burned more than 30 city blocks to the ground, leaving an estimated 300 African Americans dead and thousands more homeless. Some survivors claim the National Guard dropped a bomb on Greenwood in order to stop the rioting.

The Wexner Center's May concerts by Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet and Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey are part of National Chamber Music Month, an initiative of Chamber Music America.

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