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Irvin Mayfield
Irvin Mayfield.jpg
Background information
Birth name Irvin Mayfield, Jr.
Origin New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Genres Afro-Cuban jazz
Latin jazz
Occupation(s) Bandleader
Cultural Ambassador
Instruments Trumpet
Years active 1990s–present
Labels Basin Street Records
Half Note Records
Associated acts Wynton Marsalis
Delfeayo Marsalis
Jason Marsalis
Los Hombres Calientes
Eric Reed
Bill Summers
Dr. Michael White

Irvin Mayfield, Jr. is a Grammy-nominated, Billboard Music Award-winning jazz trumpet player and composer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Currently serving as the official Cultural Ambassador of the City of New Orleans, Mayfield has also led his own groups, including the Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble Los Hombres Calientes, the Irvin Mayfield Quintet, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO).[1] An educator and composer, Mayfield is also artistic Director of Jazz for the Minnesota Orchestra and serves as Board Chairman of the New Orleans Public Library system.

Early life[edit]

Irvin Mayfield, Jr. was born on September 7, 1977 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Joyce Alsanders and the late Irvin Mayfield, Sr.[2] His mother was a school teacher at a school in the Upper Ninth Ward. He is the youngest of five brothers, and has three half-brothers and one half-sister from his mother's previous marriage. Growing up, he resided in several sections of New Orleans, including the Ninth Ward. He played organ at his church sometimes growing up. His father, a military man, was once a drill sergeant in the United States Army and also a boxer.[3]

He received his first trumpet when he was in the fourth grade, asking his father for one after seeing the success a friend of his was having with girls by playing the instrument. His father—who had played trumpet in high school—encouraged him to practice and improve as much as he could. The first song he learned to play on trumpet was "Just A Closer Walk With Thee"; he later performed this piece at the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert in 2005—one day before he learned that his father had died in the flood after Hurricane Katrina. Early in his public school education, Mayfield befriended fellow schoolmate Jason Marsalis. Jason is the son of jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, of the famous Marsalis family.[3]


Mayfield began his musical career during the latter half of the 1980s, playing with the Algiers Brass Band, a traditional New Orleans based street act. His early work with the band was educational for him. In the late 1990s he shared an apartment in New York City with Wynton Marsalis for a brief period. Wynton was already an accomplished recording artist at the time.[3] As a young man he attended and graduated from NOCCA, acquiring a scholarship to the famous Juilliard School of Music based in New York City. Instead of accepting the scholarship, at the behest of Ellis Marsalis, he decided to attend University of New Orleans instead (where Ellis ran the jazz studies department). In spite of being an educational experience for him, he left within his first year.[3]

Los Hombres Calientes[edit]

In 1998 Mayfield, along with Bill Summers, founded Los Hombres Calientes, a New Orleans jazz group that incorporates Afro-Cuban jazz with rhythm & blues. Original members include Mayfield, Summers, Jason Marsalis, Victor Atkins III, David Pulphus and Yvette-Bostic Summers. Shortly after forming, the band signed with Basin Street Records, a New Orleans-based jazz record label.[4] His recording debut with Los Hombres Calientes was a success, and Mayfield gained national recognition as a result. Though the band has not released a studio album since 2005, they still remain active.[5] The group's self-titled debut album won the 2000 Billboard Music Award in the Contemporary Latin Jazz Album of the Year category. This same album was a bestseller in 1998 and 1999 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Their third recording, Vol. 3: New Congo Square, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001 and was also a Bilboard finalist; their fourth release, titled Vol. 4: Vodou Dance, was also a finalist for this same award again in 2004.[6][7]

Institute of Jazz Culture[edit]

Irvin Mayfield 2.jpg

In the fall of 2002 Mayfield founded the Institute of Jazz Culture at Dillard University, having been an artist-in-residence there since 1995.[8] The mission of the Institute is to combine several educational approaches toward jazz music, offering courses which combine music with politics and culture. Affiliated with the Institute is Dr. Michael White, holder of the Keller Chair of the Humanities at nearby Xavier University (a fellow recording artist for the Basin Street Records label, also). Much of the inspiration for founding the Institute came from Mayfield's time spent living with Marsalis as Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, wondering why New Orleans did not have such a place.[9]

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra[edit]

In the Fall of 2002, Mayfield unveiled his plan to assemble a New Orleans-based jazz orchestra. In December 2002 Mayfield founded the sixteen-piece New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, of which he still serves as artistic director, a jazz ensemble listed as a 501(c)(3) dedicated to education in the performing arts.[8] Proceeds from events related to the group help to fund organizational expenditures, and the ensemble originally worked out of the Institute for Jazz Culture at Dillard University.[9] Run from Mayfield's office at Tulane University, NOJO provides younger musicians with the opportunity to learn from older musicians. NOJO offers educational programs and and has traveled the world offering performances rooted in the rich musical and cultural heritage of New Orleans. The orchestra, which consists of roughly sixteen New Orleans-based musicians, will sometimes break up into smaller groups for performances and programs. The non-profit New Orleans Jazz Orchestra's (NOJO) first recording was Strange Fruit, a 90 minute opus released in 2003 to critical acclaim. In 2005 the orchestra was commissioned to perform All the Saints, which became the first major jazz performance in the city since Hurricane Katrina. Since then they have also conducted an international tour, taking New Orleans: Do You Know What it Means? to audiences worldwide.[1]

Mayfield serves as bandleader and artistic director, and members have included the likes of musicians like Evan Christopher. As of January 2006, the new home of the orchestra has been at Tulane University. The orchestra also has a residency program at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) that includes educational workshops, performances and commissioned musical pieces for debut in Newark, New Jersey. Currently the orchestra is performing New Orleans: Then and Now nationwide, featuring selections from the early years of jazz in New Orleans as well as some penned by Mayfield himself. Mayfield believes strongly that supporting the orchestra helps put the musicians of New Orleans back to work.[10]

Christ Church Cathedral[edit]

Irvin Mayfield Quintet[edit]

Minnesota Orchestra[edit]

In July 2008, Mayfield was made the first artistic Director of Jazz of the Minnesota Orchestra. There he will oversee jazz-related programming, serve as curator, conduct performances, and participate in educational programs.[11] Already he has released the line-up for the 2009 Piper Jaffray Jazz series, which will include performances from Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the McCoy Tyner Quartet, the Irvin Mayfield Quintet and Minnesota Orchestra, and the Ramsey Lewis Trio.[12] The Minnesota Orchestra is also to offer a Jazz Education Initiative which includes, among other things, a year-long mentorship program with Irvin Mayfield. The program will begin on November 5 and 6 with visits by Mayfield to the St. Paul Central High School Jazz Ensemble, with whom he will work throughout the 2009 school year. There he will offer students tips on performance techniques and also provide an education of jazz history.[12] Mayfield will also serve as guest artist on December 9, 2008 for the Dakota Combo, an ensemble of student jazz artists directed by trumpeter Kelly Rossum.[11]

Musical style[edit]


In August 2007 Irvin Mayfield was presented with a a hand-crafted trumpet in memory of his father Irvin Mayfield, Sr., who was a drowning victim in Hurricane Katrina, and other hurricane victims. Designed by David Monette and a team of approximately twelve craftsman over a one year period, the trumpet has a 24-karat gold finish, symbols from New Orleans, and is adorned with Mardi Gras-colored gems (purple, green and gold). Dubbed the Elysian Trumpet, the instrument has been insured for $1 million-dollars. It has two bells and custom mouthpiece built in for Mayfield, as well as portraits of Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino etched into its braces. The instrument has gone on tour with Mayfield and will possibly be used by other musicians as a reminder of Katrina and the music of New Orleans.[13]

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

In 2005 he joined Wynton Marsalis and a host of other musicians at the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. New York Times jazz critic Jon Pareles wrote in an article on the event, "The concert's most touching moment was a performance by the New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield. His father, he said, is still among the missing. He played "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," the hymn that becomes both dirge and celebration at New Orleans funerals."[14] Mayfield's father was found dead the next day in an area near Elysian Fields Avenue (a victim of drowning). Three months later DNA evidence officially confirmed the identity of the body.

Other endeavors[edit]

In addition to his role as Cultural Ambassador, Mayfield also holds positions both at the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce and the Champions Group of the New Orleans Museum of Art. He is also Artistic Director for the Chandler Jazz Festival in Arizona. Mayfield also serves as Chairman of the Board of the New Orleans Public Library Board of Directors.

Cultural Ambassador[edit]

Mayfield was made a Cultural Ambassador of the City of New Orleans by state and local governments in September 2003.[15] Some of the committees and boards focused on New Orleans which Mayfield is or has been a member of are The Louisiana Rebirth Advisory Board, The Bring New Orleans Back Commission Cultural Sub-Committee, New Orleans Public Library Board and The Hyatt New Orleans District Rebirth Advisory Board.

According to Mayfield, there are not as many musicians at Mardi Gras as there once were in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. People are still relocating back to the area and moving back in town, but the sense of loss is still felt very much by musicians and residents like Mayfield. Whole portions of the town that once held their own celebrations during the festival no longer exist, and the community seems fractured still.[16]

National Jazz Center[edit]

Mayfield supports plans for a 20-acre (81,000 m2) "National Jazz Center" to be built in New Orleans, a complex that would use both public and private money for funding (Hyatt being one funder). The proposition has stirred debate among musicians and residents of New Orleans, and the price has raised some eyebrows. The idea is to create something similar to Millennium Park in Chicago. The plan is attracting entrepreneurial interests that reside outside of the area, which gives some local residents cause for concern.[17]

As of June 16, 2007, plans have all but halted concerning the proposed plan. The only company still involved in the project is Strategic Hotels & Resorts of Chicago, despite publicity events a year ago for the proposed center by Hyatt Regency, mayor Ray Nagin, and Governor Kathleen Blanco. Laurence Geller, the president and CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts of Chicago, says he has heard nothing from either the mayor or governor concerning the project in eight months, and states he personally believes they have not advocated for the project as promised.

There are new plans in the making formulated by Geller and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, though they are not nearly as ambitous as was first announced by the other initial players. However, even these plans remain a question mark to the people of New Orleans. Right now, the Hyatt only plans to do some repairs to its existing building. Their involvement in the project, outside of their public promotion of it in May 2006, has been muted since and leaves others involved in the project wondering if it was all done just for publicity.[18]

New Orleans Public Library[edit]

In March 2008 Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Public Library, for which he serves as Chairman of the Board, unveiled plans for a $650 million-dollar venture that will serve to build a library system that reflects the city's identity over the next twenty-five years. Plans include a jazz-themed branch to house early recordings and literature, a culinary-themed branch to celebrate New Orleans cuisine, and an architecture branch to honor the city's ironworkers and woodworkers. Funding for the project with come from a variety of sources, including the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, fundraisers, and private, city and state funds.[19]


  • 2005 - Downbeat Critic's Poll Winner
  • 2003 - Made a Cultural Ambassador of The City of New Orleans by the U.S. Government.
  • 2000 - Billboard Contemporary Latin Jazz Album of the Year for the debut album Los Hombres Calientes.


Jazz festivals Mayfield has performed at include:


Irvin Mayfield Albums Year
Irvin Mayfield 1998
Live at the Blue Note 1999
How Passion Falls 2001
Half Past Autumn Suite 2003
Love Songs, Ballads and Standards 2008
Los Hombres Calientes Albums Year
Los Hombres Calientes, Vol. 1 1998
Los Hombres Calientes, Vol. 2 1999
Los Hombres Calientes, Vol. 3: New Congo Square 2001
Los Hombres Calientes, Vol. 4: Vodou Dance 2003
"Los Hombres Calientes, Vol. 5: Carnival 2005
New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Albums Year
Strange Fruit 2005


  1. ^ a b "Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra". 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott (2001). Trumpet Kings: The Players Who Shaped the Sound of Jazz Trumpet. Backbeat Books. p. 250. ISBN 0879306084. 
  3. ^ a b c d Berry, Jason. "Irvin Mayfield Interview". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  4. ^ Yanow, Scott (2000). Afro-Cuban Jazz. Backbeat Books. p. 65. ISBN 087930619X. 
  5. ^ "Hombres featured at last 'Jazz Notables' concert". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  6. ^ Staff. "Latest CD from Los Hombres Calientes named finalist for 2004". New Orleans CityBusiness. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  7. ^ "Los Hombres Calientes at Basin Street Records". Basin Street Records. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  8. ^ a b c Basin Street Records Bio. "Irvin Mayfield at Basin Street Records". Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  9. ^ a b Hamilton, Kendra. "Dillard university and all that jazz: New Orleans-based HBCU seeks to set itself apart with creation of new jazz institute, orchestra - Faculty Club - Institute of Jazz Culture". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  10. ^ "New Orleans:Then and Now". Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  11. ^ a b Espeland, Pamela (2008-10-17). "Bring on the beignets: Orchestra announces jazz lineup". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  12. ^ a b Canter, Andrea (2008-10-23). "Minnesota Orchestra, Irvin Mayfield Announce 2009 Piper Jaffray Jazz Season, Education Programs". Jazz Police. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  13. ^ "Irvin Mayfield's gem-adorned trumpet a memorial to Katrina's dead". The Associated Press. 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  14. ^ Pareles, Jon. "Marsalis Leads a Charge for the Cradle of Jazz". Retrieved 2005-05-27. 
  15. ^ "Irvin Mayfield at". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  16. ^ Fresh Air. "New Orleans Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield on Mardi Gras". Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  17. ^ Troeh, Eve. "Plans for New Orleans Jazz Center Stir Debate". Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  18. ^ Thomas, Greg. "Grand visions for new city hall, jazz park have faded". Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  19. ^ "Jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield plans ambitious overhaul of New Orleans library system". The Associated Press. 2008-03-18. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  20. ^ "President Bush Celebrates Black Music Month". Retrieved 2007-05-27.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)

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