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Interviews

Jamie Masefield: Re-Invention

By Published: June 12, 2006

AAJ: That's always been a terrific pleasure to hear and see musicians perform at FlynnSpace. It's a really great place to be a part of music. I have to tell you I found the question and answer session after the Saturday night FlynnSpace performance quite enlightening. When you talked about how much you learned, and just now thinking back on how you talked about using computer software to work on the music, it sounded like that, in combination with the video part of the project, just took you in a whole other realm altogether apart from the working musician role you'd been in for so long.

JM: That is exactly right. And I am not a computer whiz. I think if someone had heard that I had done that stuff, they would think these things come naturally to me, but they don't. It's actually a really painful learning curve.

AAJ: I got that impression from the look on your face as you talked about it. That it was not actually frustrating but a healthy growing pain. Shall we call it that?

JM: That's exactly what it was. And I wrote music that I never would've written if I wasn't writing it on the computer. Being able to write out a trumpet line and write out the upright bass bowing the notes and then listen to what I wrote, then go back and edit and hear the slight changes I had made with my editing really helped craft things.

AAJ: I'll bet it did. It's interesting to hear you say that though because as I was listening to you and the band play that night, I thought "Wow, with all the new things going on here in terms of the multimedia, this is vintage Jazz Mandolin Project music the way I've always enjoyed it." So if working with software made it different, it almost sounded like it helped you be more yourself—if that doesn't sound too lame.

JM: Well, I'd take that as a compliment. That's actually really good for me to hear. You know of course the music was also inspired by what was happening on the screen, so I'd get my inspirations from that and start working away at chords and stuff. It's good to hear that it didn't get too mechanical going through a new writing process.

AAJ: No, it didn't strike me that way at all. In fact, when I listen to The Jazz Mandolin Project, no matter what line-up it is, no matter whether it's live or on a CD, I very often get images in my head of wide-open spaces, sky and land off in the distant horizon. Not surprisingly that's what much of the video footage was. Which lent a lot of continuity to what you were doing that night. It wasn't a wholly new thing for you—it seemed to be a logical extension to what you'd been doing over the last ten years or so.

JM: I'm glad you think so. I felt the same way—that the landscapes certainly seemed to be playing a role in all kinds of different ways.

Jamie Masefield
Sean Dixon, Jamie Masefield, Michael O'Brien, Michael "Mad Dog" Mavridoglou

AAJ: How do think the shows went at FlynnSpace? I only saw the Saturday night one and I didn't read anything about it or the Sunday night one anywhere else...were you pleased with how things went?

JM: I was really pleased. You know the amazing thing in this process for me was that I really didn't know how this thing would turn out. I was kind of clueless as everyone else and I had to keep working and working and working but I didn't really have a chance to see how it would work until the guys actually arrived in Burlington and we had two days of rehearsal to have the full band play while the footage was going by. Really things went as smoothly as I could've hoped for—there weren't any technical glitches and we didn't make any glaring mistakes, I don't think, in the way we played it. Everything went pretty smoothly.

The feedback I got after the first night was that people really wanted more music and that was great for me because I want to play more music too. I had gone through a process in my head where I had thought it would be better for the most part if we didn't play while the narrator was speaking because I didn't want people to get sidetracked, you know watching the drummer and then miss an important line where she might say a critical thing in the story and then they might be clueless after that.

But I gathered from talking to people afterwards that Americans are so movie- oriented that they're really good multi-taskers when they're watching something: everyone was saying "No, no, we'll hear the story and we want more music." So, I said "Great" and for the second night, we did something you probably would've dug: in the areas in the narration that are kind of long without any music, we chose a person to solo and improvise underneath her voice.

I thought it worked really well especially for me because I had been working on the video for so long that I knew all of her vocal inflections where she stops and starts—there would be a little pause here—so I had a lot of fun playing the mandolin along with her voice and trying to be sing-songy along with her.



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