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Jun 14 / epliskin

Pure Body, Pure Mind, Pure Haas

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey pianist Brian Haas has some pretty strong opinions about food and what people put in their bodies. As a result, most of the JFJO fans are aware of the band’s thoughts on food and have embraced a healthier, more natural diet in their own lives.

Early On

Brian was the oldest of three brothers.  Growing up in Oklahoma, his mom made sure to only provide the healthiest dining options, having been raised on a farm in Kansas where she formed her own definition of good food. Up until he was around 15 years old, there were no snacks in the house, no white sugar, no Doritos…a nightmarish idea for most but run of the mill for Haas. “In order for me to get junk food, I would have to sneak to the local food store and keep a secret stash.  I grew up eating a lot of raw food and salads.”

At the age of about 15-16, Brian finally had some assistance from his two younger brothers, and they were eventually able to break down their mom’s adherence to healthy living. She got tired of always having to cook and keep healthy food around, so they started to have junk food and fast food all the time. “We started to get into more processed foods and we started to get sick as a family.  Our immune systems were way down.  We had gone from eating fruits and vegetables all day to eating processed frozen foods all day.” Brian’s mom actually had a cancer scare right at this time, and the family was convinced that the change in diet was the reason for the cancer. Brian himself also had some health problems that the doctors didn’t have an answer for. They decided to start doing some research to figure out a new strategy going forward.  They began growing wheat grass and started juicing on a regular basis, and went back to the raw food diet.

Nowadays

Eating good food isn’t a problem for Brian right now. He’s fortunate enough to be dating a professional chef. “Her specialty is vegan, vegetarian, and all organic.”

JFJO has been around for 16 years, and in the early days there was a battle between band members on deciding where to eat on the road. Some wanted to get fast food while Brian and others always wanted to eat somewhere healthy. By 1999 they were a trio with a mostly vegetarian diet.  “Food is something I’ve always been very up-front about with my friends. If I see somebody abusing themselves and their lives by what they stick in their face, I bring it up. I’m not judging them, I just let them know ‘I love you and I care about you, and you are what you eat’.”

“The way Jacob Fred works now, we wake up early every morning on the road, I know where every health food store, every juice bar, every organic restaurant is literally in almost every primary, secondary, and tertiary market in the United States.  In 16 years of doing this, I’ve figured out where all these places are…I would say in some ways that I eat cleaner and in a more precise way on the road than I do at home.”

A specific instance of food influencing the band’s music comes from their album ‘Walking with Giants’ and the song ‘Daily Wheatgrass Shots Are Burning A Brand New Pathway Through My Brain’. Take a listen to the song with an intro by Brian going a little further on his views.

“Because we’ve been at it for so long, old school fans show up to shows with organic this, vegetarian that, and fans will come up to us at the end of shows and people will give us veggie burgers and stuff.  Sometimes our manager will get texts or an email from fans wanting to go eat with us before or after shows…a lot of times we’ll go back to the dressing room after a show and we’ll see a pan of organic cookies or brownies or pizza.  Our fans are incredible and are super-aware of how we eat and what we’re in to.  I’ve been amazed by how many people go out of their way to feed us when we’re in their town.  Clean living is definitely a sub-culture in this country…many of our fans share the exact same interests in food and natural medicines that we are into as well.

The new album ‘Stay Gold‘ is JFJO’s 20th album, and features lap steel guitar, electronic, with a country feel.  Brian describes the records as ‘Dirty jazz meets country western and electronica’. The album will be released June 22nd. Check out their tour dates here.

One Comment

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  1. Tessa / Jun 26 2011

    Superbly ilulmiantnig data here, thanks!

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