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.
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The Jazz Mandolin Project is obviously not your run of the mill trio. Even the group’s name sounds more like an experiment than a band, scientists instead of musicians. And to a certain extent, the members of The Jazz Mandolin Project are scientists, pushing the boundaries of jazz beyond the typical through experimentation, all the while maintaining a sense of the acceptable and accessible.
- Pollstar, May 2000
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