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January/February 1997

Jazz Mandolin Project
The Jazz Mandolin Project
Bison Records

This album seems to want to prove that mandolin music isn't just the bluegrass twangs of Bill Monroe. The treble-ranged instrument creates an experimental alternative-music genre, spiced by dollops of hip hop, free jazz and contemporary riffs, approaches that not even Roland Kirk and Sun Ra tried. The sound of this trio from Burlington, VT is nothing like what Grandpappy picked. Jamie Masefield agilely plucks the strings of acoustic and electric mandolins, tenor banjo and charango. Stacey Starkweather is on electric and acoustic bass, also providing special effects. Gabriel Jarrett does drums and percussion. The panoply of trilling strings is abetted by a funk beat on "The Gourd," uses "Milestones" as the base for "Milestones in the Sunshine," and even suggests plantation-style banjo on "Contois." It's new, it's different, but this juror is still undecided as to whether it fits in any jazz category. - Patricia Myers

Originally published in January/February 1997
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