"Quite honestly," says Fayetteville jazz guru Robert Ginsburg, "Sasha and her brother Martin's music was not nearly as much on my radar as their father, Steve Masakowski. Steve is a renowned guitarist and educator who I booked at [the Walton Arts Center] in 2005 with the group he's worked with for 40 years, Astral Project.
"I was brainstorming artist possibilities for Jazz In Bloom with my colleague Ben Harris," Ginsburg goes on, "and he asked me if I was familiar with Sasha's music. After checking her and Martin out and realizing the potential of a 'family band,' I was convinced! A very compelling family of musicians indeed."
Jazz in Bloom:
The Masakowski Family Trio
WHEN — 3-6 p.m. April 22
WHERE — Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville
COST — $60 includes food and libations
INFO — digjazz.com
With that recommendation, Ginsburg booked the Masakowski Family Trio for the April 22 Jazz in Bloom, a membership drive and fundraiser for the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society.
Sasha Masakowski answered these questions for What's Up! in advance of her visit to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.
Q. What was growing up in New Orleans like? Not just the music, but life there?
A. Growing up in New Orleans is really special -- there is some inherent magic in this city that makes for a culturally rich, colorful childhood. Hearing brass bands in the streets, eating crawfish along the banks of the Mississippi, celebrating and costuming for Mardi Gras, going to Jazz Fest every year, playing in the flooded streets after a heavy downpour in sweltering August heat ... all these things had such a big impact on my childhood. People down here know how to enjoy life, and this city truly embraces artists and musicians and creativity, which comes through in the kindness, open-heartedness and vibrancy of the locals in this city.
Q. What did you think you'd be when you grew up? At what point did jazz take over?
A. I always figured I would be either a musician or a writer. I was a voracious reader and loved writing short stories as a child. But I loved singing, also. I used to listen over and over to early Antonio Carlos Jobim albums and sing along in pretend-Portuguese. In high school I attended the prestigious New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and studied musical theater, so for a few years I envisioned a career on Broadway, but quickly got bored with musicals and moved into the world of jazz in college, studying at the University of New Orleans. I discovered I could combine my love for writing with my love for singing and started performing original music, exploring improvisation, singing in rock bands and making studio albums in my late teens/early 20s.
Q. You've literally played around the world. What makes jazz translate so easily into other cultures?
A. I think jazz translates globally because it is soulful, and combines virtuosic musicianship with heartfelt expression. But also, because jazz is based on improvisation, musicians must have an inherent sense of trust with each band member on stage. We communicate and interact with one another through notes, rhythms and dynamics, and this sort of language and musical chemistry translates to audiences because they are witnessing a dialogue which is created spontaneously and can never be repeated exactly the same way.
Q. What do you hope an audience takes away from your performance?
A. I want audiences to feel at home, like they are getting to know us, sitting in our living room in New Orleans having a lovely conversation on a Sunday afternoon. We have a really nice album called "N.O. Escape" that we released last year that we'll have for sale, and I'll also have a few prereleased copies of my newest album "Art Market," which will be released officially on June 8 on Ropeadope Records, so hopefully audiences will take some music home with them as well!
-- Becca Martin-Brown
NAN What's Up on 04/22/2018
Print Headline: 4x4 Four Minutes, Four Questions Sasha Masakowski