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Jamie Masefield: Re-Invention

By Published: June 12, 2006

AAJ: Well that's fascinating to hear you say that because that to me, while I'm not a real fan of jazz vocalists, that would seem to be the definition of playing with a jazz singer, that is, to harmonize with them knowing their inflections and either following them or counterpointing them or dancing with them, in a way.

JM: That was really kind of what I was enjoying doing. I knew that her voice would say (sings)..da da da da da da da And Iâ????d play ( sings) de de de de de de de. It was fun.

AAJ: I have to tell you that the show I saw left me a little hungry for more music like it did a lot of people. I guess I had some expectation that the presentation would go in such a way that here would be narration, and then there would be video, and then there would be just as many, or just as lengthy interludes, of you guys playing, perhaps fading in and out of the other media. And that didn't happen as often or as much as I might've liked. Now I don't know if that was a misperception on my part or a misconception on my part or whether I just dig hearing you guys play a lot.

JM: In the program notes, I specifically wrote that there are three media and that the story was the most important. And so the music and the visuals were supportive of the story in my mind. That's what I wanted to get across most importantly. However, the show was only 55 minutes long and my intention now is to expand it to at least 70 minutes. The story is already told in 55, so I see an extra 15, maybe 20 minutes being all music and visuals. So I do think we will get to the zone where you were craving, that I crave as well. Really one of the major reasons for drumming up this concept is to create a new vehicle for JMP to play music within and so I want to play as much music as possible.

AAJ: Well that's great to hear. I didn't want to jump to a conclusion and read too much into the project itself or what you were saying or any of the comments you were making during the question and answer session Saturday night. But it almost seemed like what moved you to do this project was some measure of---and correct me if I'm wrong---frustration with just playing music with the band?

JM: Well, kind of like that. It's a lot of things, but it's an effort to move the music out of sticky-floored rock clubs and into nice listening environments. And that doesn't mean that I don't like stocky-floored rock clubs; it means that I've been living in them for thirteen years and I'd like to vary my life a little.

AAJ: I can understand that...

JM: So it was for that, and as I mentioned before, to do something with intellectual content, to do something with different media: visuals and literature, to try to engage a wide audience. I'm very fortunate and grateful for the young people who find something in JMP—I really am grateful—I think there are elements of JMP that would appeal to lots of other kinds of people and I felt like if I could attach it to some great literature that I could reach some more of those people that I want to reach.

AAJ: I agree. That's a pretty laudable ambition too and one that doesn't lend itself to an easy compromise just for the sake of playing to a lot of people. I don't want to sound patronizing when I say that, but one thing I've long admired about you and the band is how independent you are and how you've maintained your integrity and not literally or figuratively in any way sold out. So that's good to hear.

JM: I don't know as we've ever had an opportunity to sell out [laughs].

AAJ: Do you have any kind of contract with a label right now or are you still wholly independent?

JM: No, I'm independent and I really think that that's the way it'll be from here on out. I mean things have changed so much, as you know, with the record industry and I'm much more satisfied paying all the costs myself putting it out myself and not getting involved in somecorporation's accounting abilities.

AAJ: Just to get back to the Tolstoy project: do you still have plans to expand that as you mentioned a minute ago and take it on the road for at least limited engagements in other cities?

JM: Ever since the premiere, some video people and myself have been making a promotional DVD about what this thing is. Because it is hard to explain to people—there are a lot of different facets—so we have been making a promotional DVD and we'll be handing it over to my booking agents and they'll have the proper tools to put it out to performing arts centers around the country and see if they'd like to have us perform. So I'm really focused on that project right now and if some festival or some place wants to have JMP to come do a concert, in some special situation, I'm delighted to go play. But for the time being, I really want to focus on the Tolstoy thing and try to perform in front of people and get that give-and-take discussion afterwards, get people thinking about some different things. I think it's a fresh offering.

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