Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield’s and his bandmembers’ musicianship and their expressive interpretation of familiar holiday classics set A New Orleans Christmas apart from the many seasonal albums available.
From the onset, the album shows its Crescent City roots giving “O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree)” a second-line swing.
The Jazz Playhouse band, which regularly plays at Mayfield’s Bourbon Street club where the album was recorded, gives the tune a traditional jazz flavor. Within the ensemble work, reedman Derek Douget utilizes the soprano saxophone in the role of clarinet, weaving its tones between those of trombonist Vincent Gardner with Mayfield’s pure trumpet taking the lead.
The rhythm set by pianist Ronald Markham on “Silent Night” is almost dirge-like with Mayfield adding emotional punch by employing a muted trumpet. “Winter Wonderland” also gets a rhythmic make-over with Markham playing some strong syncopated, New Orleans-style piano on this duet with the trumpeter. The baritone sax of Jason Marshal is featured on an elegant version of “The Christmas Song” and Michael Watson provides the disc’s only vocal on the solidly soulful “Christmas Time Is Here.”
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” presents a modern jazz approach to the Yuletide standard that begins as folks all know it. Exploring the song further, Douget moves to tenor saxophone before the bari comes in giving it greater tonal depth. Mayfield’s horn brightens it along with Adonis Rose’s splash of cymbals.
A New Orleans Creole Christmas celebrates this city, the holiday and jazz played by exceptional musicians.