Jaz Sawyer/Irwin Mayfield: 20/20
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Another in a series of CD's recorded live at the famous Blue Note jazz club in New York, "20/20" presents a contrast of sorts between a lyrical trumpeter and three highly percussive musicians in an aggressive rhythm section. Irvin Mayfield's tone, containing a bright ring and a slight buzz, commands attention in an extroverted, entertaining style that incorporates half-valve effects, full-range-of-the-trumpet cadenzas, growls and blurts. Yet, these embellishments never lead Mayfield far from the melody.
Interestingly, "20/20" is a cooperative affair, featuring relatively young trumpeter Mayfield and 20-something drummer Jaz Sawyer, both of whom are building their own separate and now joint reputations. Thus, the repertoire consists mostly of tunes associated with acknowledged jazz trumpet masters like Dizzy, Miles and Brownie. And yet, the prominence of the drummer remains pre-eminent as Sawyer and Mayfield freely introduce "Night In Tunisia" as a conga/trumpet excursion or as Sawyer delivers his own high-energy solo of "Sticks & Hats".
But it would be a mistake to count out the influence of Rodney Whitaker and Jacky Terrasson as essential pieces that make the group wholly satisfying. "Night In Tunisia" attains its rhythmic grounding once Whitaker sets the tone for the remainder of the tune with his seemingly counter-rhythmic lines.
And, Terrasson! Not realizing the identity of the pianist at first listen, I had one of those "Who is that pianist?" moments as he fills in the rests on "Four" with luminous and illuminating sprinkles or progressions, establishing his own personality while enlarging the group's success in re-interpreting jazz standards. Terrasson's stamp is all over "Con Alma," which refers to the lightly Latin vamp of his own composition, "Cumba's Dance."
Live recordings may project a unique energy of their own, but "20/20" succeeds as well because of the intuitive communication between the musicians and the pure enjoyment that they seem to experience while performing.
Four, Sandu, Night In Tunisia, Stella By Starlight, Sticks & Hats, Con Alma, Jordu, Shell
Irvin Mayfield, trumpet; Jacky Terrasson, piano; Rodney Whitaker, bass; Jaz Sawyer, drums, percussion
Record Label: Half Note Records