Irvin Mayfield canceled several high profile appearances in New Orleans in the wake of a WWL-TV investigation into his financial dealings as director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, but will bring the orchestra to play a major concert at the Montreal International Jazz Festival on July 3.
Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra will perform one of the festival’s “Les Grands Concerts” at the Theatre Maisonneuve with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. NOJO backed Bridgewater on the just-released album Dee Dee’s Feathers on Okeh Records.
Mayfield has been under siege in New Orleans since it was reported that he applied money from the New Orleans Library Foundation, where he was a board member, to the non-profit NOJO as part of his program to build a home for the orchestra at the $10 million Jazz Market on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.
Within days of the charges, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu demanded that the library funds be returned. Mayfield subsequently left the library board and canceled several public appearances in New Orleans, including performances at his nightclub Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. According to WWL, the NOJO is under federal investigation “related to the use of public library donations for Irvin Mayfield’s New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.”
It will be interesting to see if the local controversy affects Mayfield’s reputation in Montreal where New Orleans music has always been well represented and extremely well received. A report on the festival will appear in the August issue of OffBeat.
Festival International du Jazz du Montreal runs through July 9 in the center of the city’s downtown arts district, offering a range of free outdoor concerts and ticketed indoor shows. Along with NOJO, this year’s event features jazz luminaries such as Abdullah Ibrahim, Wayne Shorter, Enrico Rava, Stanley Clarke, Christian Scott, Dave Douglas, Harold Mabern, Brad Mehldau, Ron Carter, Patricia Barber, Vijay Iyer and Robert Glasper.