Saxophonist Virginia Mayhew's first recording as a leader, 1998's Nini Green, was one of the best-reviewed debuts of that year. Her follow-up, No Walls , is another winner, a set of top-flight modern jazz combining challenging compositions and exciting improvisations from a stellar cast of musicians.
Mayhew, a veteran of a dozen years on the New York scene and a former member of the great trombonist Al Grey's band, is a versatile performer equally at ease on tenor and soprano saxophones. Her sensibilites as a player and writer are thoroughly straight-ahead, but hardly predictable, ranging from the funky blues of the opener "Hi-Ya, Mama," to the plaintive "Never Enough," featuring some beautiful solos from the always remarkable Kenny Barron on piano. Along with four Mayhew originals, the album's highlights include a Latinesque take on Dave Holland's "The Oracle"; a romp through John Coltrane's "Grand Central," with plenty of room for hard blowing from Mayhew on tenor and Ingrid Jensen on trumpet; and a memorable Mayhew-Barron duet on the classic Duke Ellington ballad, "Don't You Know I Care (Or Don't You Care to Know?"). The title cut is a haunting, tender original by veteran bassist Harvie Swartz, who anchors the sextet's rhythm section.
With No Walls , Mayhew proves again that as a performer, composer and band leader, she's approaching the upper echelon of jazz artists. Well worth checking out.
Track Listing: Hi-ya Mama, Apple Flambe, The Visit We Missed, Never Enough, The Oracle, Grand Central, No Walls, Don't You Know I Care (Or Don't You Care to Know?, Mythology.
Personnel: Virginia Mayhew, tenor and soprano saxophones; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Kenny Barron, piano; Harvie Swartz, bass; Allison Miller, drums; Adam Cruz, percussion.
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.