Grammy Winning Jazz Artist Brings New Orlean Sound To LA

Irvin Mayfield

Irvin Mayfield plays in Lancaster Nov. 21 and Northridge Nov. 22

Grammy and Billboard-winning jazz artist Irvin Mayfield represents the continuity of the unfolding Jazz legacy of New Orleans at only age 36. Mayfield will perform at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center on Nov. 21 and the Great Hall of the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge on Nov. 22.

Mayfield is considered one of the most recorded and decorated Jazz musicians of his generation due to his tremendous devotion and virtuosity. Mayfield created a performing arts institution dedicated to presenting engaging and transformative Jazz experiences in 2002 called the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO).

NOJO won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble for its critically acclaimed CD Book One on the World Village/Harmonia Mundi label under his highly acclaimed artistic direction.

The OC Concert Guide had the chance to chat with Mayfield about his initial involvement with jazz music, his biggest inspirations and winning his first Grammy.

OCCG: How did you initially start getting into jazz music? Was it instinctive or did you develop a taste for it?
Irvin Mayfield: When I was nine years old, my best friend played trumpet. I thought he was cool and that all the girls liked him, so I wanted to play trumpet, too; life’s pretty simple at nine.

OCCG: How did you learn to pay the trumpet? Were you self-taught or did you take lessons?
Irvin Mayfield: My dad initially taught me how to play trumpet as a kid. Then I was able to attend the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), where so many incredible musicians and artists have gotten their start in New Orleans. My teacher there, Clyde Kerr Jr., will always be one of my heroes.

OCCG: What inspired you to create the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO)?
Irvin Mayfield: Jazz music is important; it needs to be celebrated and advanced, with its integrity preserved, in the city where it was born.

OCCG: What was your immediate reaction when you won your first Grammy and Billboard Award?
Irvin Mayfield: Well clearly I was excited! It’s an honor to be recognized at such a high level and among so many artists whom I respect and admire.

OCCG: Who have been your biggest inspirations throughout your music career?
Irvin Mayfield: There are too many to name them all, but a start on that list would be Louis Armstrong, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lionel Ferbos, Dr. John, Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, Aaron Neville, Fats Domino, Pete Fountain and Germaine Bazzle.

OCCG: What do you want your listeners to gain out of your first cut, “O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree)” from your upcoming album A New Orleans Creole Christmas?
Irvin Mayfield: Christmas music is important and ceremonial. I hope that listeners like it, thinks it’s authentic, and incorporate it into this holiday season, and those to come.

OCCG: What are you most looking forward to at your upcoming shows at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center on Nov. 21 and the Great Hall of the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge on Nov. 22?
Irvin Mayfield: Thus far this tour has been a blast; the band is having as much fun as the audience. Each show is a bit more wild and crazy than the last, so I can’t wait to see what happens this weekend.

OCCG: What advice would you want to give to other jazz musicians out there?
Irvin Mayfield: Practice hard, be professional, and have fun.

OCCG: What’s next for you on your agenda?
Irvin Mayfield: Opening the New Orleans Jazz Market! NOJO’s new home in Central City New Orleans will open in March as a performing arts venue and Jazz community center. It’s the first space built specifically for Jazz in the city that created this music. Construction is almost finished, and we’re excited to show it to the world.

OCCG: What’s a fun fact you’d like everyone to know about you?
Irvin Mayfield: I ride motorcycles and my favorite food is spaghetti.