124

The Jazz Mandolin Project: Xenoblast

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
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 yet supremely sensitive support that only the best rhythm section players can. (Dahlgren’s bass is recorded particularly well.) Masefield spins his web on top of it all, making up his own instrumental rules.

The JMP’s ties to the jam band scene couldn’t be clearer. Masefield hails from Vermont, Phish’s home turf. In fact, Phish drummer Jon Fishman used to play in the JMP. Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, a good friend of Masefield’s, co-engineered Xenoblast at The Barn, his Vermont studio. He guests on the final track, "Hang Ten." Fans of Phish and similar groups will automatically kindle to the JMP, especially the more jam-oriented tracks like "The Milliken Way" and "Spiders." But like the Grateful Dead before them, Phish is a band that tends to inspire either passionate loyalty or outright loathing. If you fall into the latter category, the JMP is probably not for you. However, an open-minded listen to Xenoblast yields many rewards: the strongly jazz-inflected mandolin on "Double Agent," the balladic tones of "Jovan," the folky textures of "Shaker Hill," and the 5/4 funk groove of the Stravinsky-inspired "Igor."

While it can be said that Masefield and the JMP are riding the crest of a commercial wave, they’re doing something undeniably different. And Masefield, not incidentally, has opened all kinds of doors for future mandolinists to walk through and explore.

| Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Gurutopia" CD/LP/Track Review Gurutopia
by James Nadal
Published: March 22, 2016
Read "Southern Avenue" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Avenue
by James Nadal
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "I Can Do All Things" CD/LP/Track Review I Can Do All Things
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 14, 2016
Read "Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue" CD/LP/Track Review Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue
by James Nadal
Published: April 12, 2016
Read "Kodama Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Kodama Trio
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 31, 2016
Read "Jinja" CD/LP/Track Review Jinja
by James Nadal
Published: February 11, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!