The Jazz Mandolin Project: The Deep Forbidden Lake

With a rotating ensemble of musicians and concepts, The Jazz Mandolin Project is a constantly revolving “project,” that continues to challenge leader Jamie Masefield in sound, texture and adventure. What began as a group of jazz players in a local Burlington, VT coffeehouse, JMP has evolved into one of the most creatively tuned bands playing today.

Having nailed the concept of groove, buildup and improvisation on previous releases Xenoblast (2000) and Jungle Tango (2003), Masefield has decided to take a step back and return to basics with The Deep Forbidden Lake. Shadowing his eclectic taste in music that runs the gamut of modern rock, folk and jazz, the talented mandolin player covers twelve of his favorite songs by a number of his favorite musicians. But he doesn’t do it alone, as Gil Goldstein (Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius) lends the piano chops and Greg Cohen (Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits, John Zorn) joins in on upright bass. And Masefield gives his counterparts free-reign to help reinvent the songs, just as the version of Billy Strahorn’s “My Little Brown Book” summarizes the album’s goal- to come across both quiet and relaxed.

The song list may appear a bit self-indulgent, covering Radiohead next to the likes of Django Reinhardt and Ornette Coleman, but stripped to the album’s bare acoustic arrangements without the lavish production and vocals, these diverse music genres become channeled rather than segregated. Of course Masefield allows himself a little rock star fun as well, as he nails the familiar intro buildup and tender shrill of Thom Yorke in Radiohead’s “Everything it its Right Place.”

The album’s namesake number, along with “Winterlong,” are two of the featured Neil Young compositions that provide the album it’s “outdoorsy” feel, reinvented in ways far from familiar on Young’s Decade compilation. But the album’s highlight is a stirring rendition of Tom Waits’ “Ol’ 55” where Masefield’s picking provides as much tenderness as any of his own compositions. Thankfully, the improvisation plays second fiddle to the melodies and arrangements on Deep Forbidden Lake, which allows this incarnation of the Jazz Mandolin to shine in a new, yet familiar setting.

Related Content

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide