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Irvin Mayfield and Ellis Marsalis

Love Songs, Ballads and Standards

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Mayfield is too often overshadowed by fellow Crescent City-born trumpeters Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton. Yet the younger musician continues turning in recordings featuring superb, inventive playing, and intriguing compositions and arrangements, as demonstrated yet again on this collaboration with his former teacher, pianist Ellis Marsalis.

Spicing gorgeous long tones with quick runs, half-valves and smears, he offers pretty, affecting versions of jazz standards – Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight," Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," – as well as pop staples "Superstar" and Stevie Wonder's "Blame It on the Sun." Corinne Bailey Rae's "Like a Star" is delicate, almost poignant, and Mayfield's muted, slurring lines add earthiness to Norah Jones' hit "Don't Know Why."

Ballad playing is a jazzer's toughest task, and Mayfield acquits himself more than admirably, with the inspired support of Marsalis, a rhythm section and, sometimes, an understated Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Expressively employing a wah-wah mute, the trumpeter demonstrates his own feel for the form with his tender "Romeo and Juliet." Side note: Give Mayfield credit for storing the original 2004 mixes, accounting for 10 of the 14 tracks, on his iPod, thereby saving the recordings from Katrina. 3 stars

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