The Jeopardy answer is: "This young hip New Orleans trumpeter has jazz chops on loan from Louis Armstrong." Your response might be: “Who is Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, or Irvin Mayfield?” Maybe it’s something they put in the juleps, because there is no shortage of trumpet talent coming out of the Crescent City. Twenty-two year old Irvin Mayfield, born the same year Wynton Marsalis launched his neo post-bop revival, seizes the opportunity to eclipse his mentor and role model on How Passion Falls.
Mayfield’s second solo record for Basin Street takes the early Wynton Marsalis group sound as a jumping off point. Drawing from the ensemble feel of Lee Morgan’s Blue Note days, Mayfield explores the dynamic possibilities of hard bop. Together with saxophonist Aaron Fletcher and guests Donald Harrison and Delfeayo Marsalis, he presents the officially-approved bop frontline orchestration.
Things get more interesting when he pares down the lineup and allows his voice to shine. Mayfield employs the New Orleans tradition of growling and talking-trumpet voices. He can speak softly with his mute or work the high register. His plunger duo with pianist Ellis Marsalis on the ballad “Romeo & Juliet” demonstrates an unusual depth of emotion for such a young musicianas does his New Orleans blues “The Reality,” where again he pares down the instrumentation for gutbucket simplicity and an authentic feel.
Mayfield's musical recipe starts with ingredients from the Marsalis revival and then adds a unique personal blend of spices. He draws from his two critically successful records with his working trio, Los Hombres Calientes. LHC, a collaborative effort with drummer Jason Marsalis and percussionist Bill Summers, reconfigures Afro-Cuban jazz with tinges of reggae, blues, and rock. Mayfield’s approach here on “The Obsession,” although acoustic, suggests the feel of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi recordings.
Mayfield’s approach to neo-bop on How Passion Falls offers exciting evidence that another generation of New Orleans musicians will raise the torch and push jazz forward.