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.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.