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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 at all resembling Braxton's thornily atonal post-Schoenberg jazz aesthetic. No, this one is cool and swinging in the most pleasantly conventional senses, with bassist Chris Dahlgren and drummer Jon Fishman collaborating with Masefield in creating practically a late-Nineties mandolin Wes Montgomery album.
Thus fans of mainstream jazz should flock to this well-played disc and not be put off by the offbeat instrumentation, which interferes not a wit with the professional tone of this competently and cheerfully played set.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.