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The Jazz Mandolin Project in Burlington, Vermont Feb. 20, 2009

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The Jazz Mandolin Project Club Metronome Burlington, Vermont February 20th, 2009

On the second of just two stops within their northeast home base, The Jazz Mandolin Project, led by Jamie Masefield, played like a finely-tuned unit of musicians who had spent weeks on the road. Noticeable right from the start, the high-quality sound in Burlington Vermont's Club Metronome was a harbinger of things to come as the fidelity continued full and clear throughout the three-hour performance, the arresting sound a direct reflection of the musicianship itself.

Opening with a comparatively short run through ...

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The Jazz Mandolin Project: Mixed Media, Mixed Messages

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The Jazz Mandolin Project FlynnSpace Burlington, Vermont April 8, 2006

Because Jamie Masefield's independence is matched only by his artistic integrity, it was perhaps inevitable that, after a decade of working on his Jazz Mandolin Project, he would venture into the realm of multimedia. The first of two nights at Burlington's intimate FlyynSpace found the Vermont native offering his presentation based on a Tolstoy short story with mixed results, but that's no reflection on his skills, those of his band--or ultimately, his own ambition.

For any artists in any medium, it's tricky to be ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jazz Mandolin Project: The Deep Forbidden Lake

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While the Jazz Mandolin Project has been a collective of sorts in the past, with a revolving door membership that has included Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and bassist Stacey Starkweather, it's really always been mandolin player Jamie Masefield's baby. And so, the Project's latest release, The Deep Forbidden Lake, is essentially a Jamie Masefield solo effort, with pianist/accordionist Gil Goldstein and bassist Greg Cohen sitting in as guests.

Whereas earlier JMP releases were sometimes lumped in with jam bands like the String Cheese Incident and Phish, The Deep Forbidden Lake is far removed from that aesthetic. More a collection of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Jazz Mandolin Project: The Deep Forbidden Lake

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The Deep Forbidden Lake is not by any means a return to roots for the Jazz Mandolin Project, since Jamie Masefield's very first albums under the JMP moniker were with three-man lineups including drums. This new effort is rather a distillation of his ideas, a sort of folk-chamber music in which he, bassist Greg Cohen, and keyboardist Gil Goldstein explore the nuances of melody provided by a wide selection of compositions, the breadth of which clearly illustrates Jamie's eclectic taste (the result of which can bring tunes from Hendrix, Weather Report, and Sonny Rollins into his live sets).

Far from ...

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The Jazz Mandolin Project at Higher Ground

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There may be no more distinctive jazz-fusion band than Jazz Mandolin Project. Jamie Masefield’s use of the mandolin guarantees surprises, but even seeing him and his band in the past would not prepare you for the extended sets they delivered in the Winooski Vermont club this February night.

It’s probably appropriate that the band really took off when they used Weather Report’s “Black Market” as a launching pad to explore not just the rhythmic and melodic potential of the tune, but the command of each musician’s instrument as well. The bass of Scott Ritchie, clear and pronounced in the mix ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Jazz Mandolin Project: Jungle Tango

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The Jazz Mandolin Project may be touted as a cutting-edge band exploring new instrumentation and sonorities, but after listening to their new album Jungle Tango several times over the last three weeks, I don't hear it. What I do hear is an ensemble with inspired interplay, all fine players, and yes, there is a mandolinist--band founder Jamie Masefield--in the group.

The band is based around a nucleus of acoustic bass, drums, and mandolin with additional contributions by Gil Goldstein (accordion and piano) and Chris Lovejoy (percussion) on various pieces. The pieces where Goldstein joins the ensemble represent the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jazz Mandolin Project: Jazz Mandolin Project

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I must admit that, when I first received this album, I thought to myself, “Jazz Mandolin?! WHAT?!" That they were from the “very exciting Burlington, VT music scene" made me all the more querulous. If The Project is any indication, however, I may be on my way to Burlington very soon, for when I eventually relented and listened to the album, I was pleasantly surprised! This was not the solo to “Maggie May" or even the backing basis of “Mandolin Wind" (from which many come to know and consider the mandolin as a popular instrument). It was something exciting and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Jazz Mandolin Project: Xenoblast

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The Jazz Mandolin Project may now have this major label debut under its belt, but in various incarnations, the unconventional trio has been touring and recording since 1993. With the current jam band craze, and the legitimacy the genre is gaining in the jazz world, it is finally the right moment for leader/mandolinist Jamie Masefield’s quirky musical worldview. The opening title track on Xenoblast zips along with a compelling, kaleidoscopic synthesis of funk, progressive rock, “new acoustic" music, and jazz. Bassist Chris Dahlgren and drummer Ari Hoenig, their impeccable New York jazz credentials in tow, provide the kind of energetic ...

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the Jazz Mandolin Project: Xenoblast

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The Jazz Mandolin Project? Mandolin and Jazz? Jazz played by a Mandolin? Throw your preconceptions out the window and open up your ears to experience a Xenoblast through time. The Jazz Mandolin Project, who are at home at the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival or a Jamband Festival such as the Berkshire Mountain Music Fest, return with opus numero three ready to dispense their eclectic blend of jazz, classical, rock and drum n bass on the uninitiated. Did I say jazz, classical, rock and drum n bass? And a mandolin at its epicenter? Yes, it's true and entirely infectious.

Best of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Jazz Mandolin Project: Xenoblast

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Jamie Masefield’s string jazz trio swings through a package of interesting themes that range from folk history to ride-cymbal-mainstream-jazz and on to blazing hot, electronic, backbeat jazz-rock. His compositions feature lovely melodies that adhere to specific impressions. These mental pictures become focal points for group improvisation and repetitious jam sessions. Masefield’s vivid imagery leaves no doubt for the listener, as in “Spiders," which ranges from open and natural to dense and mysterious. “The Milliken Way" drives through three styles, as its folk tune basis turns dramatic with a driving jam session and then becomes more emotional. Key changes and increased ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Jazz Mandolin Project: Tour de Flux

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Mandolin, yes, but you won't find any foggy mountain bluegrass here. When these folks took the name the Jazz Mandolin Project, they could have been inspired by the Truth in Advertising Commission. Actually, without knowing that Jamie Masefield is wielding a mandolin (as well as a “tenor banjo"), a casual listener might figure that this is another album of guitar jazz. The music is thoroughly in the mainstream jazz groove, although there are a few surprise hooks: Masefield's “Chapeau" sounds like a cousin of Anthony Braxton's “Composition 52," but that connection shouldn't make anyone think that this music is anything ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jazz Mandolin Project: Tour De Flux

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The name attracts attention; outside of Dave Grisman, “mandolin jazz” is a contradiction of terms. This record, the Project’s second, comes after an impromptu tour with a new lineup, including the drummer from Phish. The novelty of the mandolin is soon forgotten; you remember the energy, the mad strumming, the restless exploration. This is many things, but it is serious music. Even if the leader wears a silly mask on the back cover.

Jon Fishman clicks off, and “Flux” starts softly. The mandolin of Jamie Masefield states the theme, playing single-string with chords at the end of each phrase. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jazz Mandolin Project: Tour De Flux

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“The future belongs to musicians willing to explore timbre in terms of new combinations of instruments that are not standard." So said jazz saxophonist and owner of Postcard Records Ralph Simon in a December 1997 JazzTimes article about the future of jazz.If Simon is right -- and I believe he is -- the future belongs to people like Jamie Masefield, leader of the Jazz Mandolin Project. Aside from Dave Grisman and Sam Bush -- talented musicians whose sensibilities are as much bluegrass as jazz -- I'm hard pressed to think of a single mandolin player in jazz. Maybe ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Jazz Mandolin Project: Tour de Flux

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This Burlington, Vermont trio sounds more like an accomplished guitar trio than the gimmick their name might suggest. Maybe that's what makes Tour de Flux, the group's second disc in their four-year history, an absolute knock-out.Mandolin and banjo pyro-technician Jamie Masefield more or less leads the band. He's a methodic, even erudite player that careens the group through fairly unique territory. But you can still recognize the geek wackiness of Bill Frisell, the funky sophistication of John Scofield, and sometimes even the romantic sensitivity of Pat Metheny. The brew gets potent jolts throughout from Chris Dahlgren's edgy, progressive ...



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