Thursday, April 03, 2008

Irvin Mayfield/Ellis Marsalis: Love Songs

Here's my review of the new Irvin Mayfield/Ellis Marsalis CD, as published in Las Vegas City Life.

The photo of Irvin, above, with Los Hombres Calientes, was taken at Jazz Fest in 2006.

Below is the raw feed (unedited version) of the review:

Irvin Mayfield and Ellis Marsalis
Love Songs, Ballads and Standards (Basin Street Records)

Irvin Mayfield too often is overshadowed by fellow Crescent City-born trumpeters Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton. Yet the younger musician continues turning in recordings featuring superb, inventive playing, and intriguing compositions and arrangements, as demonstrated yet again on this collaboration with his former teacher, pianist Ellis Marsalis.

Mixing gorgeous long tones with quick runs, and half-valves and smears, he offers pretty, affecting versions of jazz standards – Thelonious Monk's " 'Round Midnight," Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," Harold Arlen's "Come Rain or Come Shine" – as well as pop staples "Yesterday," "Superstar" and Stevie Wonder's "Blame It on the Sun." Corinne Bailey Rae's "Like a Star" is delicate, almost poignant, and Mayfield's muted, slurring lines add earthiness to Norah Jones hit "Don't Know Why."

Ballad playing is a jazzer's toughest task, and Mayfield acquits himself more than admirably, wrenching much emotion from these pieces, with the inspired support of Marsalis, a rhythm section and, sometimes, an understated Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Expressively employing a wah-mute, the trumpeter demonstrates his own feel for the form with his tender "Romeo and Juliet."

Sidenote: Give Mayfield credit for storing the original 2004 mixes, accounting for several of the 14 tracks, on his iPod, thereby saving the recordings from Katrina.

Update: Because of a need to keep the review short, I didn't include the names of the rhythm-section players. Bassist Neal Caine and drummer Jaz Sawyer both provide great support for the co-leaders.

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