Jazz Mandolin Project, The Deep Forbidden Lake
(Lenapee Records, CD)
Vermont's mandolin prince Jamie Masefield plays his heart out on Jazz Mandolin Project's sixth release, The Deep Forbidden Lake. There's plenty of radiant music to be found in this collection of 12 instrumental covers; the disc is like a grand tour of leader Masefield's favorite melodies. With the help of keyboardist Gil Goldstein and upright bassist Greg Cohen, he expertly voices each tune.
Unhurried and lush, the record is not one bit "jammy" or meandering. Each piece is succinct, reverent and beautifully played. The luxurious bossa nova re-imagining of Neil Young's "Winterlong" starts things off wonderfully.asefield's mandolin and Goldstein's piano trade lines on Billy Strayhorn's "My Little Brown Book," which paints pictures of late nights in a posh New York City bar. Cohen provides a solid bass foundation throughout, making the tunes growl or thump as needed. He's got a rare sense of depth and space; you definitely feel his presence, but he never tries to take over.
The trio seems obsessed with pairs: They perform two Young numbers, two Django Reinhardt compositions, two Tom Waits classics and two Radiohead tunes -- including a hauntingly beautiful reading of "I Will," which sounds a little like an outtake from the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack.asefield deserves special credit for his work on the Reinhardt pieces; he really makes Django's fiery leads ring.
Goldstein's accordion playing on the title track is soft and churchy, like an old pump organ. But JMP can also bop with the best of 'em -- Ornette Coleman's "When Will the Blues Leave?" wraps up the disc with some amazing interplay between Masefield and Goldstein. Toy piano intersects with vibrant mandolin in a powerful album highlight.
The musical range of these three talents is impressive, as is Masefield's seamless weaving of such a wide variety of styles. Deep Forbidden Lake is another fine addition to JMP's growing body of work, and further proof that mandolin mastery doesn't begin or end with Bill Monroe, Mike Marshall and David Grisman.