Complete with introductions and crowd reaction, Live at Newport, by trumpeter Irvin Mayfield leading the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, was captured at the 2015 edition of the highly respected Newport Jazz Festival. Its Crescent City origins were immediately apparent in the opening cuts, the Mardi Gras Indian–influenced “Tune Up (Rising Tide)” and the traditional jazz flair of “The Elder Speaks.” Introductions were in order for the members, so a big nod to Mayfield for thoughtfully crediting each of the soloists and eventually the entire band.
Trumpeter Ashlin Parker is the first to rule center stage, offering a bounty of strikingly slinky, high-flying blowing on Mayfield’s composition “Angola,” one of six originals from his sharp pen. As always, saxophonist Ed Petersen impresses with his free-flowing creativity on another of the leader’s fine works, “Sweet Bread on the Levees.”
The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) is filled with the cream of this city’s jazz artists, including a rhythm section that boasts longtime members pianist Victor Atkins and drummer Adonis Rose. So whether in support of soloists or taking a tune on its own, it comes together as one remarkably super-tight ensemble.
The very varied program features vocal numbers on cover tunes by trombonist Michael Watson (“Overjoyed” and “We Will Rock You”) and Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown (“I’ve Got the World on a String”). Mayfield’s trumpet becomes the emotional voice on Lennon and McCartney’s “Yesterday.” The trumpeter’s passionate tribute to his father, who died in Hurricane Katrina, “May His Soul Rest in Peace,” remains heart-wrenching yet so beautiful.
Live at Newport demonstrates the breadth of talent and diversity of Irvin Mayfield, the members of NOJO and the qualities that define the city itself.
Irvin Mayfield plays Jazz Fest on Thursday, May 4 at 12:25p on the Acura Stage