Previous recordings for the Accurate label yielded much the same type of instrumental music as on this, their major label debut. The Jazz Mandolin Project
is less about straight ahead, mainstream jazz, and more into exploring a certain amount of improvisation within rock oriented and compositional contexts. Mandolinist Jamie Masefield
churns out incessant chords like a guitarist, and his single line inventions fall along conventional staccato tonality. Bassist Chris Dalhgren cuts back his more progressive inclinations, while Ari Hoening provides steadying rhythms. On the rockier front, Phish
guitarist Trey Anastasio
cameos on the hard edged "Hang Ten," as he and Masefield
crisscross ascending and descending scales. The title track is more a two chord surf rocker with avant and meditational breaks. More complex is the noisy intro with 5/4 ostinato bass to contrary 4/4 beat of "Igor." At their best developmentally is the multi-layered "Spiders" with a bass led ostinato, quirky 4/4 to 6/8 mandolin, groovin' bridge for single lines, juggernaut march or peaceful blues themes, and back to the ostinato. A caravan march with distinct Russian elements informs the rocky bridge of "Dromedary," and a slow, ponderous groove sets up "Jovan." At their most melodically centered is the very pleasant "Shaker Hill," reel flavored "The Milliken Way" with instrumental pop inclinations and endless chords, and the only legit jazz piece "Double Agent," with light boppish, nicely hued swing. Perhaps the band should change their name so as not to confuse the listener. There's more folkish power pop going on, but the unquestioned skilled musicianship of the three members is easy to peg. This writer finds their music tedious, but others may very well think it is refreshing, to each his/her own.