The MJ Project is a jazz/funk/jam band made up of four musicians from the Philadelphia area. As described by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Karl Stark, “The four — with their ardent mix of jazz, funk and groove — are poised to see if their harmonic convergence can turn them into a working band.” MJ has created a tight groove and impeccable sound that proves it has become a band that works on many levels.
During the summer before their last year of college, the members of MJ Project — Ajinkya Joglekar (drums), Benjamin Karp (guitar), Ian McGuire (keyboards) and Paul Weinstein (bass) — made an impact on the Philadelphia music scene with numerous well-attended gigs in 2004. The band has performed at many established venues, including Philadelphia’s Theatre of Living Arts, World Cafe Live, Tritone, Doc Watson’s, Mill Creek Tavern, Grape St. Pub, and several packed shows at Chris’s Jazz Café, which have drawn more than 150 fans every time. The group has also taken the stage at The Fire, La Tazza 108, Speakeasy Café and The Rusty Nail, as well as at Pittsburgh’s Mr. Small’s Theatre, Club Cafe and Carnegie Mellon University’s Underground. MJ’s music has been on rotation at 103.3 WPRB’s “Nocturnal Transmissions” radio show, which airs Friday nights and is hosted by Doctor Cosmo. The group even appeared as a special guest performer on the show in August of 2004 and September of 2005.
Although members of the MJ Project have been playing together since the seventh grade, the group spent most of its high school years practicing, listening to jam masters such as Phish and Medeski Martin and Wood, and performing at various school functions and coffee houses in the Philadelphia area. The band’s varied sets, which ranged from 25-minute epic originals to jazz standards to classic Stevie Wonder tunes, helped MJ gain experience; the sound was clearly beginning to tighten. As a result of their constant desire to find new influences and ability to play together without any pressure, the members of MJ Project grew together at their own comfortable but rapid pace before they started college. The group now communicates so well that its music often sounds far advanced for such young musicians. The Project’s sound is an intelligent and funky mix of experimental jazz, danceable grooves and spacey but melodic sounds.
According to Ardmore’s Rusty Nail, “Every now and then you come across a band just oozing with talent. They make it seem easy. This 4-piece experimental, improvisational, jazz, funk band is good… real good. These young kids have their hand on the pulse.”
MJ’s recently completed its first pre-release album, A New Space and Time. Recorded in Wyncote, PA at Kawari Studios, the disc features 11 fresh originals, each a fine representation of the group’s tightness and versatility. The first batch of CDs sold out within a few weeks of its release. An update and remix of A New Space and Time will follow this fall.
Now with college graduation successfully behind it, MJ Project is poised to take on the music world fulltime in 2005 and beyond.
Ajinkya Joglekar (drums) University of Pittsburgh, Music and Physics
Benjamin Karp (guitar) Carnegie Mellon, Jazz Studies w/ Physics minor
Ian McGuire (keyboards) Berklee College of Music, Performance and Composition
Paul Weinstein (bass) Penn State University, Journalism and English
With an ever-growing fan base (boasting over 650 names), MJ’s commitment to its music and work ethic will continue to expand its following! The band is more than prepared to bring its refined sound to a broader venue.