Carnival & Strange Fruit

Ken Franckling By

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The New Orleans trumpet lineage keeps getting longer and in some ways, stronger. What started with Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong has in more recent decades brought us the likes of Wendell Brunious, Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Leon "Kid Chocolate Brown and Irvin Mayfield.

Los Hombres Calientes
Basin Street Records

Still in his 20s, Mayfield seems to be as busy at home in the Crescent City as his mentor, Marsalis, is in New York. He co-leads Los Hombres Calientes with percussionist Bill Summers, leads the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and recently was named the city's cultural ambassador. Two of the fruits of all that work at home are just out.

Los Hombres established itself as one of the great jazz/funk/Caribbean-African diaspora party bands in the late '90s and has continued to explore those complex, sizzling commonalities ever since. This fifth recording, Carnival, is a natural. With a plethora of special guests, they explore the many facets of Carnival - and where better to do so than America's most rollicking party town, the home of Mardi Gras.

The many guests joining Los Hombres' core band include, at various times, Big Easy vocal treasure John Boutté, the Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins, the Meters' bassist George Porter Jr., Troy "Trombone Shorty Andrews, percussionist Kenyatta Simon, singer Phillip Manuel and African Soukous singer- guitarist Diblo Dibala.

The most interesting tracks include Mayfield's "James Booker - built around a Carlos Henriques bass line and featuring strong performances by the trumpeter and pianist Ronald Markham in tribute to the late New Orleans piano great; the seemingly all-hands-on-deck sound of "The Mardi Gras Second Line, Summers' "Escan Tocando, the Porter-funk-infused "George Porter, "Mardi Gras Bayou and "Carnival Congo, a gem written by Dibala and Summers. This is a splendid party from beginning to end with much to love.

Irving Mayfield
Strange Fruit
Basin Street Records

The second CD, Strange Fruit, is nearly as ambitious in scope as Marsalis' award-winning epic oratorio Blood in the Fields. The nine-movement work was recorded live last spring by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, the Dillard University Choir and narrator Wendell Pierce. More than a half-dozen participants were also on the Carnival session. The Mayfield- written 90-minute epic, though perhaps inspired by the gut-wrenching and dark classic Billie Holiday recording of the same name, is not derivative of it. This one was written after Mayfield toured the "Without Sanctuary exhibit chronicling the history of lynching in the U.S. The result is an interracial love story in the setting of its social and political consequences, told in instrumental music, song and voice. The orchestra swings mightily when appropriate, particularly when the female lover, Mary Anne, comes to realize the healing power of the blues. Indeed there is pain, but yes, there is hope.

Tracks and Personnel



1 Carnival (Havana) Mayfield 5:20

2 Camparsa de Carnival Gonzales, Summers 2:24

3 Latin Tinge II Mayfield 5:55

4 Ewesi Para Hevioso Public Domain 1:49

5 Estan Tocando, Pt. 1 Summers 1:53

6 Estan Tocando, Pt. 2 Summers 3:59

7 Indians (6 A.M. Mardi Gras Morning) Mayfield 0:38

8 James Booker Mayfield 8:54

9 Rojo's Revenge Atkins, Brown, Summers, Walker 5:17

10 The Mardi Gras Second Line Mayfield 8:08

11 Cubacajun Carnival Brown, Sebastian, Summers 3:50

12 George Porter Mayfield 3:52

13 Carnival Lullaby (Nite Nite Little Irvin) Mayfield 7:20

14 Alakati Owo Public Domain 0:34

15 Melena Ortiz, Summers 4:10

16 Carnival de Phunk Brown, Summers, Walker 4:59

17 Mardi Gras Bayou Brown, Leblanc, Summers 2:24

18 Carnival Kongo (Congo) Dibala, Summers 5:07

19 Kendavshubi (West Africa) Braswell, Simon, Summers 0:41


Victor Atkins Piano

John Boutté Vocals

Leonard Brown Trumpet

Diblo Dibala Guitar, Vocals

Bernard E. Floyd Trumpet

Michaela Harrison Coro

Carlos Henriquez Bass

Tyrone Henry Jun-Jun

Rashida Johnson Itotele

Edwin Livingston Bass

Phillip Manuel Vocals

Mardi Gras Indians

Ronald Markham Piano, Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer

Irvin Mayfield Trumpet, Hammond Organ, Vocals

Derrick Moss Drums

George Porter, Jr. Bass

Shannon Powell Tambourine

Kermit Ruffins Vocals, Narrator

Ricky Sebastian Drums

Kenyatta Simon Bells, Djembe, Shekere

Bill Summers Percussion, Vocals, Djembe, Coro, Okonkolo, Itotele

Stephen Walker Trombone

Brice Winston Tenor Sax

Strange Fruit


1 Movement 1: Narration #1 Mayfield 0:56

2 Movement 1: Intro/Opening Statements Mayfield 6:10

3 Movement 1: The Beginning of the End Mayfield 4:53

4 Movement II: Narration #2 Mayfield 1:22

5 Movement II: Oral Traditions of the South Mayfield 4:02

6 Movement II: The Elder Negro Speaks Mayfield 4:02

7 Movement III: Narration #3 Mayfield 2:09

8 Movement III: Color Lines Mayfield 5:43

9 Movement IV: Narration #4 Mayfield 1:03

10 Movement IV: Ballad of the Hot Long Night Mayfield 7:13

11 Movement V: Narration #5/Beat Mayfield 9:08

12 Movement VI: Narration #6 Mayfield 2:17

13 Movement VI: The Lynch Mob (You'd Better Run Boy Run) Mayfield 4:52

14 Movement VI: Hoopin' and Hollerin Mayfield 3:46

15 Movement VII: Narration #7 Mayfield 2:17

16 Movement VII: The Prayer/Final Words Mayfield 3:47

17 Movement VIII: Narration #8 Mayfield 4:03

18 Movement VIII: The Sacrifice/The Mourning Mayfield 6:59

19 Movement IX: Narration #9/Falling Leaves Yet Growing Trees/Ah Yes the B Mayfield 3:02


Troy Andrews Trombone

Victor Atkins Piano

Leonard Brown Trumpet

Neal Caine Bass

Troy Davis Drums

Aaron Fletcher Alto

Barney Floyd Trumpet

Calvin Johnson Tenor Sax

Irvin Mayfield Trumpet

Darryl Reeves Alto

Steven Walker Trombone

Brice Winston Tenor Sax

Samir Zarif Baritone


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