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Irvin Mayfield – New Orleans Jazz Playhouse

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A beautiful 300+ page coffee table book with seven CDs of music recorded at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans

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Praise for New Orleans Jazz Playhouse

“His passion permeates every page of this anthology, from the deeply felt essays he’s written to the provocative photographs he’s assembled here. Irvin graciously and generously invites you into his world. You will not want to leave.” – Walter Isaacson (biographer and author of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Einstein: His Life and Universe, and Kissinger: A Biography)

“With this book and these recordings, Irvin Mayfield connects our past and present with vignettes on three muses: truth, love, and beauty. As a son of New Orleans, as a trumpeting descendant of Buddy Bolden, as a proprietor of the most successful bona fide Jazz club on historic Bourbon Street, he is absolutely qualified to tell our story. He understands that if we are to remain ourselves, our story must be told and retold—remembered and reinvented—at each telling.” – Wynton Marsalis

“Irvin Mayfield: New Orleans Jazz Playhouse is unlike any coffee-table book about the city or its music. If the text at times reads like A World According to Irvin, the ego weight is offset by some surprisingly moving prose, as when he reflects on his father’s death.” –The Daily Beast

New Orleans Jazz Playhouse hits #11 on CMJ Jazz Charts

New Orleans Jazz Playhouse hits #19 on CMJ Jazz Charts, #33 Jazzweek Chart

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Album Description

New Orleans Jazz Playhouse is a beautiful 300+ page coffee table book with 7 CDs of music recorded at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans.

This book focuses on the trumpeter’s experiences as a New Orleans native, a jazz musician, and on the many influences in his life.

Born out of the Love Sessions, a week-long live music event at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse on Bourbon Street, in which the proceeds from each night are donated to a different non-profit, the music showcases the talents of The New Orleans Jazz Playhouse Revue: Vincent Gardner, Adonis Rose, Peter Harris, Jason Marshall, Derek Douget, and John Chin. The album also features several special guest artists including: Jamison Ross, Michael Watson, Davell Crawford, Sasha Masakowski, Steve Masakowski, Gerald French, Shannon Powell, George Porter Jr., James Rivers, Don Vappie, Leon Brown, and Ronald Markham.

If you are here because of a referral from a non-profit organization, follow up your order with an email to mark@basinstreetrecords.com and we’ll donate $20 to the non-profit you designate in your email.

Liner Notes

Irvin’s Liner Note

It’s not often that you’ll find a musician writing his own liner notes for a recording session. But after several decades of purchasing and borrowing music, I’ve always found myself wanting to know more of the story behind the song: why and when musicians have written, arranged, and performed the music I listen to, not to mention what it means to them. It’s one thing to read an objective description from a trusted voice in the music world; it’s quite another to learn about the music straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

This music was recorded live and onstage over nine consecutive days at my club, Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. The core band consisted of a septet of musicians, all of whom I respect and love equally as artists and friends. We’ve worked together for many years now, journeying across the wide landscape of jazz and several other genres. Joining this revue were special guests from near and far who performed with us every night.

The occasion was the “Love Sessions,” an annual weeklong event which culminates on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 29th. Every year a tremendous outpouring of talent and love erupts in the Playhouse, and we give away one hundred percent of the ticket sales revenue to different non-profit organizations. Over the last six years, the “Love Sessions” have generated over half a million dollars for charities as diverse as mental health, children’s health care, literacy, homelessness, and music lessons. The “Love Sessions” were started as a means of helping the local community to heal, and they have continued in this vein. For New Orleans—and its narrative—is continually evolving.

These songs were performed as folks sang, danced, laughed, partied, and cried—all for charity. And you can feel their passion in these recordings. You’ll also feel Their passion in these recordings. You’ll also feel the energy of the Playhouse Revue. I chose this structure because I wanted to recreate the same spirit that pulsates throughout the Playhouse on any given Wednesday night, when I normally take the stage with the core band and a surprise guest. The only thing we couldn’t capture with this box set was a visual dimension of the midnight burlesque led by Trixie Minx every Friday night. (You’ll just have to come to the club and see that for yourself!) Thirty-three diverse songs grace this collection of music, and I am proud of every single note.

Personnel

Septet/core band:

Irvin Mayfield – Trumpet

I’m just a homegrown boy from New Orleans who loves to tell stories with my art.

Vince Gardner – Trombone

Vince is a trombone player extraordinaire who lives in Harlem, but was born in the windy city of Chicago. No one plays more comprehensive trombone than Vince.

Adonis Rose – Drums

Born in New Orleans’ historic African-American Sixth Ward, also known as Treme, Adonis is the greatest drummer of his generation in New Orleans

Peter Harris – Bass

Peter Harris is a musician’s musician. His playing is extremely flexible and diverse. There are few bass players who can make acoustic bass fit on so many different styles. Peter is one of a handful.

Jason Marshall – Baritone Saxophone

A true New Yorker, I first met Jason while he was working with trumpeter Roy Hargrove. He makes baritone speak with clarity and honesty. His touch on any recording is undeniable.

Derek Douget – Tenor and Soprano Saxophones

Born in the small country town of Gonzales, Louisana, which is located about sixty miles northwest of New Orleans, Derek is the best saxophone player of his generation in New Orleans.

John Chin – Piano

John Chin, born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Los Angeles, has been a fixture on the New York jazz scene since the late 1990s. John’s touch on the piano is a dying art form.

The Audience – Handclaps, Cheers, Screams, and Hollers

Every night, over nine days, a mostly local group of about 120 folks came together and brought out the very best of the musicians. A New Orleans audience is the best audience in the world for Jazz. Local folks dance, sing, cry, scream, and party to a soundtrack that other people respond to quietly—and, typically, while seated.

The aforementioned group of musicians is a jazz dream team. These seven CDs capture how my generation speaks through music. Jazz and love, we believe, are analogous. Just listen and you, too, will believe.

Guest Musicians:

Jamison Ross – Vocals

Michael Watson – Vocals and Trombone

Davell Crawford – Vocals

Sasha Masakowski – Vocals

Gerald French – Drums and Vocals

Shannon Powell – Drums and Vocals

George Porter, Jr. – Electric Bass and Vocals

James Rivers – Tenor Saxophone

Don Vappie – Banjo

Leon Brown – Trumpet

Steve Masakowski – Guitar

Ronald Markham – Piano

Track List

Disc One: Monday

Track 1. Angola (for Ernest Gaines) 17:03

I first wrote this song for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra big band. It was fun to reinterpret it for a smaller Jazz group. It’s an excerpt from a suite I composed to celebrate the life and works of novelist Ernest Gaines. All of the heroes in Gaines’ novels eventually die, falling victim to the unjust and unrelenting world in which they struggle to survive. This makes me think of the Louisiana prison named Angola, which represents America’s growing jail problem; something needs to be done about it soon. As a token of respect for Ernest Gaines, I decided to make this the first song of the seven-disc box set.

Track 2. Seven Years (featuring Jamison Ross) 9:48

I first heard this song covered by the beautiful storyteller Norah Jones when we were together on stage at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. I thought this song would make a great debut for the voice of rising star Jamison Ross, who is also a good drummer in his own right. Jamison’s delivery is different from Norah’s, but he tells just as good a story. His ending is impromptu and brilliant.

Track 3. Keep on Pushing (featuring Jamison Ross and Michael Watson) 7:40

I love Curtis Mayfield’s music. It represents soul and contains messages of overcoming obstacles. I fell in love with this song all over again when it was chosen as the soundtrack for a commercial that featured N.B.A. star LeBron James walking through town to his barber shop. Curtis’ music will never die.

Track 4. Blue in Green 9:27

This is the sexiest song ever recorded by music icon Miles Davis. It’s from his seminal album, Kind of Blue. We give you a much longer version so you don’t have to hit repeat as often, should you be using this song as a soundtrack for romantic action.

Track 5. James Booker 12:45

I wrote this song for the New Orleans piano master James Booker, as mentioned in my first book, A Love Letter to New Orleans. My best friend, Ronald Markham, joins the band on this one. Harry Connick, Jr. is the only person who speaks Booker better than Ron on the piano.

Track 6. Li’l Liza Jane (featuring Gerald French) 17:11

Jelly Roll Morton discusses the folklore behind this song on his Library of Congress recordings. Gerald is the most recent leader of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, the oldest continuously playing Jazz band in the world. This recording is an example of the type of party that happens every Monday night when they play at the Jazz Playhouse.

Disc Two: Tuesday

Track 1. Yesterday (featuring Davell Crawford) 10:43

When I was a freshman in highschool, Davell was a senior; he was a piano and voice prodigy. It’s amazing how he delivers the words of John Lennon and Paul McCartney in this live recording. I believe this to be a classic.

Track 2. Old Wyne 8:32

This song speaks to my fascination with the late great New Orleans drummer James Black. His songwriting is simply genius. Amazingly, most of his music was unwritten. Thanks to the memories of the musicians who last played with him in the 1980s, we were able to learn many of his songs.

Track 3. Vodou Love Call 8:15

This is a song I wrote for and recorded with my Latin band, Los Hombres Calientes; it’s an homage to my Haitian ancestors. This recording represents a fresh acoustic take and is much longer than the original version.

Track 4. Fatimah 13:29

This is one of the few songs I’ve written for a woman. Fatimah is the mother of my two sons, Irvin and Richie. They tell me, of all the songs I’ve written, this is one of their favorites.

Track 5. Buddy Bolden’s Blues (featuring Don Vappie) 9:23

Don Vappie is the best banjo player of his generation in New Orleans. He is a Creole-born musician, like Jelly Roll Morton. And just like Jelly Roll, he delivers a fun version of this tune. All the discs in this set end with a New Orleans party, so to speak, and, believe me, that’s what you’ll hear in this recording.

Disc Three: Wednesday

Track 1. Skyfall (featuring Sasha Masakowski) 8:37

Sasha is a sexy young singer whose talent and personality shine through her every interpretation. This is one of the more adventurous selections of the box set: Well-known as the theme song of the James Bond movie Skyfall, originally performed by Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Adele, the song is familiar to most audiences. That’s already a challenge. Now consider that our version is live, and you’ll see why this is an adventurous selection. But we sure had fun with it.

Track 2. The Denial 12:36

I wrote this song for my second solo album on the label, which was all about relationships. The theme of this song is denial. Someone performs the same action over and over again, as if repetition will somehow bring truth to the lie. This song is reminiscent of the sound of Jazz in the late eighties, with a tinge of funk.

Track 3. Back Home Again in Indiana/Donna Lee 12:19

This song starts out with an old Louis Armstrong classic and then transports you to the Bebop world of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. It’s cool to hear so many people playing fast. This is a sugar rush for your ears!

Track 4. Saint James Infirmary Blues (featuring Sasha Masakowski) 13:38

Totally in her comfort zone, Sasha sings one of the old hometown anthems. If you like dirty, nasty, funky blues, this song is for you. Vince played the trombone as though he’d lost his woman on this song.

Track 5. They All Ask’d for You (featuring George Porter, Jr.) 11:19

George Porter, Jr., nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, wrote this song with the rest of his band mates from the iconic band The Meters. Every child in New Orleans sings this song.

Disc Four: Thursday

Track 1. Harlis Laughing 12:31

Written by New Orleans luminary Harold Battiste, this song is all about the groove. Your head will bop from start to finish. I was really happy with what the band accomplished on this song. It’s hard to groove from note one to the end when you’re playing Jazz, especially live Jazz. But we did.

Track 2. Tom Thumb 13:22

Wayne Shorter is a Jazz titan. For all of you novices out there, just mention Wayne’s name to a Jazz aficionado and you’ll come across as an expert. Most people don’t expect to hear this kind of music in a New Orleans club on a Thursday night— unless you’re at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. The band, I believe, had a few drinks on this night.

Track 3. Othello and Desdemona 6:52

This is another one of my relationship songs. I was inspired by William Shakespeare’s tragic romances. I use the half step motif. A half step is the distance between two notes. You can’t get any closer to a note than a half step. You also can’t separate two notes by more than a half step. Those two notes represent man and woman. There’s no relationship closer and no relationship farther away.

Track 4. Over the Rainbow/Skylark 9:22

Ballads are slow songs, and they’re my favorite to play. I like to feel the emotion of these songs. Michael sings this song with so much tenderness that it makes you want to cry.

Track 5. Eh La Bas (featuring Don Vappie) 6:36

With his banjo, Don gives the ears a taste of the Caribbean side of New Orleans. He sings in French with a lot of joy and ends this disc with another type of New Orleans party.

Disc Five: Friday

Track 1. You Are My Sunshine 7:42

Shannon Powell holds a revered spot in the lineage of New Orleans drummers. He sings and plays one hell of a drum solo. An authentic example of traditional New Orleans drumming and spiritual singing, he has the rare gift of doing many things at once and with a high level of artistry.

Track 2. The Affair 10:16

This is a musical portrait of the pairs involved in a love affair. The band shows tremendous maturity through patience and mood setting. Ballads seem easy because they’re slow, but, truth is, ballads are the most difficult pieces of music to play.

Track 3. Marzique Dancing 8:01

Harold Battiste wrote this song. He wrote for Sonny and Cher, Sam Cooke, and a host of other artists. This song has a special groove and a great melody. It’s also a great motivator. I play it when I need inspiration around my house.

Track 4. Jasmine 7:20

Written by the relatively unknown New Orleans drummer James Black, this song captures all the beauty and truth that can exist in a song. The lyrics are amazing, and Michael Watson delivers them like a true poet. This is a special song and a special moment for the recordings.

Disc Six: Saturday

Track 1. Mack the Knife (featuring James Rivers) 8:33

James Rivers shows everyone on this night what his weekly gig at the Playhouse is all about. He is swinging and grooving. This live recording cap­tures him still at the top of his game.

Track 2. Dianne 11:20

Dianne Gaines is writer Ernest Gaines’ wife. She is eternally beautiful, and the band draws a fresh image of her loving essence with this song.

Track 3. The Obsession 10:20

If a stalker were a song, this is what it would sound like.

Track 4. Pretty One 11:24

James Black’s unrecorded, melodious song proves that New Orleans speaks through artists in differ­ent ways. I love to play this amazing song on most of my live small group shows.

Disc Seven: Sunday 

Track 1. When My Dreamboat Comes Home 15:45

On most Wednesdays, when performing at the club, we play this traditional New Orleans stan­dard. Without fail, people start to dance.

Track 2. Love Petals 6:58

I recorded this original song roughly a decade and a half ago. Inspired by a photograph of Gor­don Parks, which shows a beautiful white flower, this song speaks to the lush romantic side of love.

Track 3. Someone to Watch Over Me/My Funny Valentine 11:19

Some songs are always better when the words are sung. My Funny Valentine is no exception. Michael Watson gets a request to sing this song all the time from the locals who hang out with us every Wednesday at the Jazz Playhouse.

Track 4. Magnolia Triangle 12:03

James Black wrote this New Orleans Jazz standard and recorded it in the sixties. It’s an example of a party that still requires effort on the musicians’ part, and no one gets let down by the end result.

Credits

Producer and Creative Director: Irvin Mayfield
Executive Producer/Publisher: Mark Samuels
Associate Creative Director: Emily Welcker
Project/Art Design: Britton Stewart
Copy Editor: Allison Levy
Live Recording Engineer: David Farrell
Live Stage Engineer: Masanori Yura
Recorded Live at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse
Mixing Engineer: Misha Kachkachishvili
Mixed at Esplanade Studios
Photography: Herman Leonard, Gordon Parks, Greg Miles, Erika Goldring, Jafar M. Pierre, Joshua Brasted, Stephen Siegel, Michael P. Smith, Benjamin Simmons, Chris Welcker, Matt Anderson, Josh Goleman, Jeff Strout
Paintings: George Rodrigue and Gustave Blache III
Videographer: Virgile Beddok
Cover Illustrator: John H. Clark IV
Music Assistant: Emily Fredrickson
Production Coordinator: Braden Piper
Irvin plays trumpets hand-built by David G. Monette. Irvin plays flugel horns made by Bach Stradivarius.
To gain more acoustic sound out of the bass, these recordings were made without the use of the dreaded bass direct. The recordings are 100% live and were created in Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse New Orleans.

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