At only 30 years old, Irvin Mayfield has quickly established himself as one of the most decorated and recorded Jazz musicians of his generation. Mayfield is a versatile trumpeter, bandleader, composer and arranger, recording artist, a passionate spokesman for the rich history and cultural significance of Jazz and the city that birthed it. Appointed the Cultural Ambassador of the City of New Orleans in 2003 by the United States Senate, Congress and other governmental agencies, his name has become synonymous with the still-unfolding legacy of America’s only indigenous music
Even after Katrina – especially after Katrina, which took the life of his father, Irvin Mayfield, Sr.this tireless Renaissance man considers Jazz nothing less than the manifestation of all that American democracy represents. Within the freedom so intrinsic to Jazz, Mayfield sees the story of America. In its myriad rhythms and personalities, he finds the oversized soul of New Orleans. He is the recipient of the Elysian Trumpet, hand-crafted for him by David Monette in honor of his father, who was found after the storm on Elysian Fields Avenue, and all those who lost their lives in the storm. Inlayed with jewels and images of New Orleans and of the Hurricane itself, the priceless instrument has been blessed by representatives of three of the world’ s religions, including the Archbishop of Canterbury during his historic visit to New Orleans last September.
Most recently, during the North American Summit in New Orleans President George W. Bush declared the trumpet a “Cultural Treasure”.
Mayfield is a highly successful recording artist. On April 1st, 2008, Mayfield released his 11th album Love Songs, Ballads and Standards, with Ellis Marsalis on Basin Street Records. The album was the first release on the label since Hurricane Katrina. It is a release of instrumental interpretations that distills the essence of the Great American Songbook with great passion, including time-tested classics like “Yesterday” (the Beatles) and contemporary gems like “Don’t Know Why” (Norah Jones).
In 2002, Mayfield founded the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Inc., the only major Jazz performance institution of its kind in the city. “Today he serves as artistic director of the non profit institution, which tours a professional big band internationally and provides other jazz centered experiences.”
In January 2003, he founded the Institute of Jazz Culture at Dillard University. That same year, Mayfield was unanimously appointed to the post of Cultural Ambassador for the City of New Orleans by city officials. Since then, he has served as a musician who not only embodies and represents the great New Orleans Jazz legacy, but also as a cultural spokesperson for New Orleans.
Mayfield, whose extensive discography stretches back nearly a decade, is rooted firmly in the present, but he has benefited enormously from studying that which comes before him. He has absorbed the music of the giants; particularly the trumpeters who have helped define the course of Jazz over the decades and set Irvin on his own journey of exploration: Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and Dizzy Gillespie. He considers Wynton Marsalisanother promoter of the great heritage of New Orleansa mentor. Mayfield’s relationship with the Marsalis family goes back many years.
In October 2003, Mayfield debuted Strange Fruit, featuring the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and the Dillard University Concert Choir. Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra made history on November 17, 2005 when they symbolically reopened New Orleans with the performance of a historic piece composed by Mayfield titled All the Saints At Christ Church Cathedral. This commission was the first of its kind by an Episcopal diocese, and it served New Orleans as the first major cultural event inside the city post-Katrina.
Mayfield’s numerous collaborative ventures have made him a sought- after composer for special events, such as the New Orleans Museum of Art’s commissioned musical tribute (Mayfield’s first-ever commission) to renowned African American artist Gordon Parks. This piece, The Half-Past Autumn Suite was later recorded with Parks, Wynton Marsalis and the Irvin Mayfield Quintet, and released by Basin Street Records. Additionally he co-founded the New Orleans-flavored Latin Jazz band Los Hombres Calientes. He also leads his own band, the Irvin Mayfield Quintet.
He has also appeared on or produced dozens of other records including Strange Fruit with NOJO and the Dillard University Choir and Volume 5: Carnival, a Los Hombres Calientes recording. Their previous album, Volume 4: Voodoo Dance (2003), was nominated for a Billboard Latin Music Award. Volume Three: New Congo Square (2001) was nominated for a Grammy. In 2000, Volume One was awarded Billboard’s Latin Music Award for “Contemporary Latin Jazz Album of the Year.” Outside of Basin Street Records, Mayfield has two other releases on the Half Note label. In 2005, he recorded “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” on Higher Ground/Blue Note Records, for the Musician’s Relief Fund, which was performed for President George W. Bush during Black Music Month.
Mayfield has remained steadfast in his effort to bring New Orleans culture back to its feet. He participated as advisory member to Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu’s Louisiana Cultural Rebirth Committee, and as committee member to Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s Bring New Orleans Back culture sub-committee. Mayfield also took up a new post as the artist- in-residence at Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans immediately upon returning to New Orleans. Currently, Mayfield serves as a board member to the following New Orleans organizations:
- New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
- New Orleans Arts Council
- Police and Justice Foundation
- New Orleans Public Library Foundation
- Vice Chairman for First Responders Fund
- The Louisiana State University Health Science
- Department of Psychiatry
- Artist in Residence at the University of New Orleans
- City appointed Chairman of the Board for the New Orleans Public Library
Irvin Mayfield Discography
New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s debut on Harmonia Mundi is scheduled for Sept. 08.
Love Songs, Ballads & Standards: Irvin Mayfield and Ellis Marsalis. Basin Street Records, 2008
Higher Ground: Irvin Mayfield performs on compilation benefit CD. Blue Note Records, 2005
Strange Fruit: Irvin Mayfield, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and the Dillard University Choir. Basin Street Records, 2005
Carnival: Volume 5: Los Hombres Calientes. Basin Street Records, 2005
Volume Four: Vodou Dance: Los Hombres Calientes. Basin Street Records, 2003
Half Past Autumn Suite: Irvin Mayfield Quintet. Basin Street Records, 2003
How Passion Falls: Irvin Mayfield Quintet. Basin Street Records, 2001
Volume Three: New Congo Square: Los Hombres Calientes. Basin Street Records, 2001
Jaz Sawyer/Irvin Mayfield 20/20: Live at the Blue Note: Irvin Mayfield. Half Note Label, 2000
The Irvin Mayfield Sextet: Live at the Blue Note: Mayfield Sextet. Half Note Label, 1999
Irvin Mayfield: Irvin Mayfield Quintet. Basin Street Records, 1999
Los Hombres Calientes: Los Hombres Calientes. Basin Street Records, 1998