Making music with Jameison Sennot

Jameison Sennot riffs on his acoustic bass guitar. —Gabrielle Mannino

Jameison Sennot is a serious musician, and one of the nicest people ever. He plays both electric and upright bass, guitar, and some piano. You may know him as the guy at Stop & Shop who brightens the days of many unsuspecting customers with his infectious smile. Jameison lives in Hillside Village. He has autism spectrum disorder and depression, which have not held him back from playing music and attending college, graduating with a liberal arts degree with a focus in music. He is very proud of what he has accomplished despite his challenges. At 37 years of age, he is definitely an up-and-coming musician to look out for. He found a moment to meet with The Times at Mocha Mott’s in Vineyard Haven for a quick chat.

Did you grow up on-Island?

I was born in Providence, R.I., in 1980, moved to Newton at 2, then here to the Island from 6 to 12 years old. I then moved back to Rhode Island to study composition.

How many instruments do you play?

Bass and guitar, but I am also teaching myself piano slowly. I also learned the upright bass in college, where I performed for many auditions and recitals.

How long have you been playing music?

Since 1997; I started actually with making crazy things on a keyboard, and picked up a bass and everything came very easily by jamming. I started by playing to Led Zeppelin and the Who records, trying to sound like John Entwistle and John Paul Jones.

Did you enjoy going to school for music?

Yes, very much! At the Community College of Rhode Island, I discovered jazz, and it really appealed to me. Stuff like Miles Davis, and I am still very influenced by Miles to this day, except for his ’80s and ’90s stuff, sorry. It was kinda hard sometimes because I was dealing with more technically accomplished musicians, but I also played in the Rhode Island Community College Jazz Ensemble. We had some end-of-the-semester recitals, that was really cool, and I made some friends there.

Your uncle is musician Mike Mok, what’s it like to perform with him?

It’s really fun and really cool. He lets me sing background vocals, and usually wherever he goes musically I am right there supporting him. I like supporting other musicians as a bass player.

Who else are you collaborating with?

I’m still collaborating with Milo Silva, but he has some structural problems in his work space, so we haven’t been working right now while he gets that together. We were doing a mix of free improv and some Mongolian melodies that we play. He developed this weird 9-tone scale and we play them different ways in counterpoint unison, harmony, melody; it’s really cool, he has an opposing scale as well that we study and jam. He also has some interesting lyrics about folk singers.

You’ve played some shows with Mike. Can you tell us a little about it?

We usually play in the summer. He sometimes plays mainly ’50s rockabilly and early ’60s songs as well as some of my originals, which he is beginning to include in the M-Tones songbook, which is really neat. He helped me set up a show in August with my associates Don Groover on guitar and Mike Alberice on drums. There was a lot of crowd noise, and it was distracting, but still a lot of fun.

What does the future hold for you?

I am also working with Jaj Halperin. Jaj is very talented classically, and is starting to play and study jazz chords. We started out playing a song called “Nature Boy,” from the ’40s (known as a standard). It was kind of rough at first, but we are still working on it. He has been playing at the Lambert’s Cove Inn recently. We might make it a full-time thing. I’ll probably be working more with Milo too, because it is an enjoyable sort of freeform kind of thing, which the Vineyard kind of needs; there aren’t many freeform jazz groups on the Island. He and I both love Miles [Davis], and he once turned me on to “The Trance of Seven Colors” by Pharoah Sanders, which I really enjoy.