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  • The Mackay Project

    Jazz trio builds on original music
  • After playing together for only three months, The Mackay Project is making its debut in Ashland. The trio is made up of Thomas Mackay on vibraphone, John Zalabak on bass and Kelvin Underwood on percussion. Together they play contemporary jazz, mostly composed of originals by Mackay.
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    • If You Go
      The Mackay Project will perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Playwright Public House, 258 A St. Cover is $5.
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      If You Go
      The Mackay Project will perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Playwright Public House, 258 A St. Cover is $5.
  • After playing together for only three months, The Mackay Project is making its debut in Ashland. The trio is made up of Thomas Mackay on vibraphone, John Zalabak on bass and Kelvin Underwood on percussion. Together they play contemporary jazz, mostly composed of originals by Mackay.
    "This is music that used to cause riots," said Zalabak.
    As newcomers on the Ashland music scene, the trio hopes to encourage listeners to take in the conversation happening in songs between musicians.
    "It's probably the first time in 15 years that I've been able to dig out all my own originals," said Mackay, "I subject these guys every Monday to a laboratory in my head. It's like the best conversation in the world, we barely ever see each other outside of playing and when we get together we don't even really talk, we just play."
    "Musically, we talk," added Zalabak, "It's just so much fun and I'm the Johnny-come-lately over here, I've only been here a year. I come from the San Francisco bay area where I played with various sundry bands."
    Mackay and Zalabak are joined by Underwood, who specializes in taiko, the art of Japanese drumming. Underwood is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and performed with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of Henry VI. In this formation though, he plays on a drum kit.
    "There's not a lot of jazz in the valley; if there is, it's standards," said Underwood.
    Mostly the group plays Mackay's original music with some tunes they remake in a jazzy style, such as "Fields of Gold" by Sting.
    "I don't want to do 'Bye Bye Blackbird' and all that stuff," said Mackay. "If we do you probably wouldn't recognize it."
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