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Virginia Mayhew: Sandan Shuffle

Dan McClenaghan By

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Who's this Virginia Mayhew woman anyway, Dexter Gordon's daughter? Sonny Rollins' niece? She plays the saxophone like a blood relative of those two giants on Sandan Shuffle. Actually, we know the reedist well from her standout 2003 effort, Phantoms, as an artist who has embraced the mainstream mode and ridden it with vigor and supreme assurance into the top level of straight-ahead saxophonists.

Since Dexter Gordon's name came up, Mayhew opens the disc with the original title tune, which features her tenor sax sounding strong and loose and relaxed, Gordon-like, over a bouncing rhythm. This good-time composition is about as danceable and engaging as a piece of music can get.

And since Sonny Rollins' name came up, track two, the classic Harold Arlen gem "Let's Fall in Love," goes into a Rollins-esque calypso/cha cha groove, with Mayhew's tone blowing hearty and robust, and first-call bassist Harvie S sounding especially elastic in the rhythm.

Mayhew wrote four of these tunes, revisiting her classic "Monterey Blues" from Phantoms. Two more numbers were penned by bassist Harvie S; and the group takes on Monk with an especially fine, funky and loose-limbed rendition of "In Walked Bud." The saxophonist breaks out the soprano horn on Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and on Mayhew's own classic-sounding "Spring is Not Here."

With 2003's Phantoms, Virginia Mayhew claimed a spot on the top level of jazz saxophonists. Sandan Shuffle backs that claim up.

Track Listing: Sandan Shuffle; Let

Personnel: Virginia Mayhew: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, guiro; Kenny Wessel: guitar; Harvie S: acoustic bass; Victor

Title: Sandan Shuffle | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Renma Recordings


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