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.
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.