Primary Instrument: Mandolin
Since 1993, Jamie Masefield's Jazz Mandolin Project has been offering an entirely new concept of what the mandolin can do. Pushing the boundaries with a new innovative sound, JMP has toured throughout the US and internationally with a unique approach that has changed the mind of many as to the instruments potential. In its latest ambitious chapter, it's exploring the realm of working in multiple mediums.
The name itself, The Jazz Mandolin Project suggests an ongoing experiment, and so it is that Masefield is currently steering his group away from the concert stage and moving it in front of a movie screen to shed light on classic literature and the ethics of Leo Tolstoy, (who has often received the title as the greatest storyteller in modern history). Unlike anything Masefield has done before, the quartet is now performing live, an original soundtrack score to a Russian story written 120 years ago... but with a modern American twist. Tolstoy's tale is of a man spurred on by the Devil to acquire more and more land, who ends up dying of exhaustion in distant lands from pure greed. The story takes on a modern context through the creative montage of video footage of American lifestyles and landscapes, collected and edited to follow the storyline by Masefield, while traversing the US on tour in 2005. The handheld video footage also gives a realistic keyhole view to the bumpy, fast life of a traveling musician. James Joyce said, How Much Land Does a Man Need? is the greatest story the world of literature knows.
JMP has recorded 6 albums. In 2000 they released Xenoblast, their major label debut on Blue Note Records, to critical acclaim. It's latest, The Deep Forbidden Lake, is an acoustic CD featuring 12 of leader, Jamie Masefield's favorite songs by his favorite musicians. He's accompanied by grammy winning pianist and accordian player, Gil Goldstein (Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius) and upright bassist Greg Cohen (Tom Waits, Ornette Coleman).
Like Mandolinists Mike Marshall and David Grisman before him, Jamie Masefield is challenging notions of what that stringed instrument--forever associated with folk and bluegrass music--can do. - JazzTimes, Bill Milkowski, May 2000
Masefield (and company) may constitute the world’s most creative and most unusual power trio. Acoustic-Electric funk...Celtic Folk...Quiet balladry...What creative, improvisation-minded musician wouldn’t want to spend time at play in the fields of these ambitious, unclassifiable compositions? (Referring to the Blue Note release--“Xenoblast”) - Downbeat.com, Philip Booth, September 2000
If the jazz world gave awards for most improved ensemble, Jamie Masefield’s Jazz Mandolin Project would be a serious contender. Masefield has progressed by leaps and bounds. - The Boston Globe, Bob Blumenthal, March 1999
Jamie Masefield pushes the limits of the eight-string acoustic instrument to conjure a mixed bag of jazz and attitude. The Jazz Mandolin Project strikes a balancebetween strict discipline (structured arrangements) and passionate abandon (wild soloing). - The Post Star, Mike Mender, Feb. 2001
Each of the nine tracks on “Xenoblast” (Blue Note Records) exudes energy and enthusiasm. “Xenoblast” manages to hold itself together with pure ingenious creativity. Step over clean Beach Boy guitar sounds, here comes the mandolin. - Pop Matters, Chris Massey, August 2000
Jamie Masefield of The Jazz Mandolin Project has been busy carving out his own unique and successful legacy in the entertainment pantheon. The trio is booked for wall-to-wall gigs at some of the choicest clubs, theaters, and outdoor events across the land. - Burlington Free Press, Susan Greene, June 2000
Founded by mainstay mandolin virtuoso Jamie Masefield, The Jazz Mandolin Project is an improv trio with a constantly evolving lineup and a penchant for modern and traditional jazz, rock classics, and world music. - MTV, Robin Rothman, Jan. 2000
Jamie Masefield's fearless improvisation carries The Jazz Mandolin Project through their first Blue Note album, XENOBLAST. Bearing heavy grooves and jazz tinged melodies, this record does well in capturing the raw energy JMP conjures on stage. The compositions range from expansive rhythmic themes to more ethereal melodic material, but the groove element is never ambiguous. - Blue Note
Mandolinist Jamie Masefield churns out incessant chords like a guitarist, and his single line inventions fall along conventional staccato tonality. The unquestioned skilled musicianship of the three members is easy to peg. - Rolling Stone, Michael G. Nastos, June 2000
Masefield is far from a retro-bopper, and this adventurous outing draws on post-bop, avant-garde jazz and fusion as well as progressive rock and world music. You're listening to a group that isn't afraid to take some chances. This is a CD (Xenoblast) that won't be accused of being stuffy or conventional. - All Music Guide, Alex Henderson, June 2000