Over the course of the past year, as Jamie Masefield's Jazz Mandolin Project has moved further into the realm of multi-media, the Vermonter has steadily developed the band known as MaMaVig. This new trio is a collaboration of both proficiency and passion.
All three individuals have chops and pedigree. Ensemble playing rules here, as this trio radiates a palpable pleasure in playing together, not merely navigating the changes but moving freely within them. Even though Masefield's mandolin, perhaps appropriately so, has upper hand (not to mention register), bassist Gary Mazzaroppi provides more than just back bonehis is a pronounced pattern on "MaMaVig Blues and when guitarist Frank Vignola steps to the forefront on "Tear Drop, he is as fleet-fingered on his instrument as his compatriots on theirs.
Given Jamie Masefield's eclectic approach with JMP (they'd cover Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance, Sonny Rollins' St Thomas and Neil Young's "Powderfinger ), the wellspring of inspiration provided by the late great Django Reinhardt on "Diminishing Blackness is only one element in this acoustic mix. The MaMaVig debut, a recording done in New York during the autumn of 2006, gives lie to the notion that acoustic music lacks dynamics. Each instrument is distinct at any given time on a track like "Golden Earrings : this sort of exotic strain often descends into cinematic caricature, or worse, academia, but here, instead, becomes an ever-so-heady mix of European jazz and bluegrass.
In the hands of MaMaVig, Gilbert O'Sullivan's pure pop "Alone Again Naturally is shorn of treacle; the pecise three-way interplay gets to the bittersweet heart of the melody and reveals the true emotion that gave birth to it. This cut is not the highlight of the CDavailable as a download onlybut it nevertheless represents the benchmark of liberating purity intrinsic to this recording.
Informally conceived and progressively executed, the collective personality of MaMaVig is already so well-developed that the band could accommodate additional players in the studio and on stage without diluting their concept or their musicianship. They are a band worth following.
Personnel: Jamie Masefield: mandolin; Frank Vignola: guitar; Gary Mazzaroppi: bass.