Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth date of pianist, composer and arranger Mary Lou Williams, the Virginia Mayhew Quartet pays homage to one of the most unheralded, yet most important jazz figures of all time on Mary Lou Williams--The Next 100 Years. Presenting new arrangements of eight Williams compositions and two original blues charts, Mayhew directs a formidable quartet of veteran players and special guest, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon to make for a powerful quintet sound on several tracks. A prominent saxophonist, well-known fixture on the New York music scene and Musical Director of the Duke Ellington Legacy ...read more
Saxophonist Virginia Mayhew is a rare forward-looking jazz artist who doesn't mind looking back. She leads the Duke Ellington Legacy, responsible for the superb Thank You Uncle Edward (Renma Recordings, 2007) and Single Pedal of a Rose (Renma Recordings, 2012). Now she honors Mary Lou Williams (1910-1983) in this tribute to the groundbreaking pianist/composer/arranger's one hundredth birthday.Williams could be considered underrated, but there are efforts to remedy that: pianist Geri Allen recorded a quartet version of a Williams' tribute with Celebrating Mary Lou Williams (Intakt Records, 2011), and more recently Sumi Tonooka offered up Mary Lou Williams Medley," ...read more
Virginia Mayhew has been a part of the New York City jazz scene since 1987 when the San Francisco native enrolled in the New School's Jazz Performance program and was awarded its Zoot Sims Memorial Scholarship. The tenor saxophonist played with a variety of bandleaders including Earl Fatha" Hines, Al Grey, Junior Mance, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Joe Williams, Clark Terry, Terry Gibbs, Kenny Barron and Claudio Roditi, as well as being a key soloist in the all-female big band Diva. A Simple Thank You is Mayhew's fifth release as a leader; it celebrates her return to recording following ...read more
It has always been a pleasure to see saxophonist Virginia Mayhew in performance and enjoy her original compositions, which present solid material which she plays with warmth, grace and the best that mainstream jazz can offer on both tenor and soprano sax.
Mayhew had to face a definite speed bump in her musical career when breast cancer developed and this project was put on hold. Thankfully, all is well now and she has a finely-tuned album to show for her efforts. The presence of five horns in the group makes this project a bit different--a distinctive little big ...read more
The soul of an artist reverberates through the music. Virginia Mayhew (tenor and soprano saxophones) fills her playing with warmth, tenderness and an unmitigated passion. Her recordings have marked these traits, making them a veritable joy. She continues the trend here, with an expanded line-up that gives the music a greater dimension. It's the first septet she has worked with, and the whole band plays with and off each other, demonstrating remarkable empathy.
The music comprises new tunes as well as those Mayhew has recorded earlier. The latter come back to haunt the listener all over again, such is the ...read more
This is about the coolest cover art you'll ever see on a CD: Saxophonist Virginia Mayhew in blue tones, as bald as an egg (cancer treatments), in partial profile, eyes closed, in an apparent state of repose. She looks like a sleek android discovered in arctic ice. Cool as hell.The music on Mayhew's fifth CD, A Simple Thank You, is every bit as cool as the cover art. There's nothing android-ish about Mayhew's step into arranging, writing and playing for a larger ensemble than she used in her previous CDs, Phantoms (Renma Recordings, 2003) and Sandan Shuffle (Renman ...read more
Convention bores Virginia Mayhew. So it's no surprise that Sandan Shuffle, her fourth release as a leader, doesn't merely embrace the unconventional, but seizes it in a bear hug. Right at the top, the blues-inspired title track is played seven to the bar, not eight and Mayhew's tenor grooves like mad. Her sax smiles throughout an inventive Calypso arrangement of Let's Fall In Love, with Kenny Wessel laying down cool guitar lines. Bassist Harvie S contributes the song Now I Know, a ballad in the fine tradition of the Charlie Haden Quartet, and Mayhew wraps her deep ...read more