A sampling of the Biographies written for the 2010 Playboy Jazz Festival Program
CHICK COREA FREEDOM BAND
A REMARKABLE PIANIST, KEYBOARDIST, COMPOSER AND BANDLEADER, CHICK COREA has had a
career filled with a countless number of collaborations and musical partnerships, both long-term and brief
encounters. He has had his own voice as a pianist since at least the late 1960s and has always been musically
inquisitive, eager to explore new music and put together unique groups.
Born and raised in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Chick Corea started playing piano at four and drums at eight.
Classically trained but always interested in improvising, Corea started playing gigs in local clubs when he was
in high school, influenced by both Horace Silver and Latin music. By the mid-1960s he was working in New
York, having important stints with the bands of Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Mongo Santamaria and Willie
Bobo. Corea made his first album as a leader in 1966, worked with Stan Getz, and in 1968 he succeeded Herbie
Hancock as the pianist with the Miles Davis Quintet. During the next two years, he was an important part of
Davis' music, switching to electric keyboards and recording such classic albums as In A Silent Way and Bitches
After spending part of 1970-71 playing with Circle, an avant-garde quartet that also featured saxophonist
Anthony Braxton, Corea began teaming up with bassist Stanley Clarke. He formed Return to Forever in 1971
with the original group performing Brazilian fusion with vocals by Flora Purim. By 1973 Return To Forever
was reborn as a fusion quartet with Clarke, drummer Lenny White and guitarist Bill Connors (who was
succeeded by Al DiMeola the following year). RTF lasted until 1977 and was one of the most important of all
Since that time, Corea has been involved in a dizzying variety of projects. duets with vibraphonist Gary
Burton, piano duos with Herbie Hancock, an album with banjoist Bela Fleck, a two-piano set with Hiromi,
leading both the Elektric Band and the Akoustic Band (which co-starred bassist John Patitucci), heading
Origin, having a reunion of Return To Forever, and co-leading the Five-Peace Band with John McLaughlin. At
this year's Playboy Jazz Festival, Chick Corea heads his Freedom Band, an all-star quartet with Kenny Garrett,
Christian McBride and Roy Haynes.
Kenny Garrett, a major altoist for the past 20 years, first came to fame during a five-year stint with Miles
Davis. He has worked with Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and with Corea in
several groups. Garrett has also led many stirring sessions of his own, adding passion to every situation in
which he plays. Bassist Christian McBride, originally thought of as a successor to Ray Brown, has carved out
his own niche. He has played with virtually every musical giant, from McCoy Tyner to Sting, while also
becoming a significant and influential bandleader and educator. The same can be said for drummer Roy
Haynes, except that his career reaches back to 1946. What do Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan,
Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny and Sonny Rollins have in common? The ageless
Roy Haynes was an important part of their music.
Haynes' appearance with Chick Corea's Freedom Band at Playboy can be thought of as a reunion since they
first recorded together in 1968. But knowing these four individuals, there will be nothing nostalgic about the
innovative and new music that they perform.
DURING AN ERA WHEN THE NUMBER OF MAJOR MALE JAZZ SINGERS UNDER THE AGE OF 60 CAN
BE COUNTED ON ONE'S FINGERS, KURT ELLING has not only led the way but helped lead to a renaissance.
His updating of the hipster tradition, his creative recordings and performances, and his influential style have
made him jazz's leading male jazz singer.
Kurt Elling graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota in 1989 and, one credit short of
graduation, left the University of College Divinity School in 1992. By then his main education was taking place
in Chicago jazz clubs where he was matching wits and ideas with local legends such as saxophonists Von
Freeman and Ed Peterson.
In 1995 when he signed with Blue Note and recorded Close Your Eyes, Elling was immediately recognized in
the jazz world as a future great. He has since more than lived up to his potential. Unlike more traditional bop
singers who revive the lyrics of Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson, Elling also composes his own vocalese
(words written to fit recorded solos), and has written lyrics for solos by John Coltrane (“A Love Supreme),
Freddie Hubbard, Dexter Gordon, Donald Byrd, Charlie Haden, Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny
A Kurt Elling performance is never predictable. In addition to his ability to come up with fresh statements on
standards and ballads, Elling sometimes improvises stories on stage, recites beat poetry, and scats up a storm,
all of it performed with the persona of a modern hipster. Even when he sings a ballad fairly straight, he adds
little touches that make his version something special. Aided and abetted by his longtime pianist Laurence
Hobgood, his music is consistently full of surprises, wit and creativity.
Through the years Kurt Elling has been involved in projects with Dave Brubeck, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz
Orchestra, Jon Hendricks, Mark Murphy, Terence Blanchard, Joe Lovano, John Pizzarelli and the
Yellowjackets among others. His most recent Concord recording, Dedicated To You, is an inventive reworking
and tribute to the classic John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman CD. It won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album
of the past year and was Elling's eight Grammy.
Kurt Elling tours the world regularly with his quartet and has starred at most important jazz festivals. This year
he makes his long overdue debut at the Playboy Jazz Festival where his performance will intrigue and delight
ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR AND INFLUENTIAL ELECTRIC BASSISTS IN THE WORLD, MARCUS
MILLER has been on nearly 500 sessions in his very productive career. He has balanced busy musical lives in
jazz, r&b, funk and pop while always looking classy and relaxed.
Born in Brooklyn and raised as part of a musical family (pianist Wynton Kelly was a relative), Marcus Miller by
the time he was 13 was already playing bass, clarinet and piano. At 15 he was working professionally and soon
was gigging and recording with Bobbi Humphrey and Lonnie Liston Smith. Miller became a top New York
studio musician and has worked with everyone from Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Elton John, Frank
Sinatra, Eric Clapton and Mariah Carey to Grover Washington Jr, Bob James, Wayne Shorter and McCoy
During 1981-83 Marcus Miller toured with Miles Davis, being strongly influenced by Davis while at the same
time making an impact on Miles' music. Later in the decade he produced three albums for Davis including Tutu
and Music From Siesta. In addition, Miller has had important associations as as a producer, bassist and
composer with such notables as David Sanborn, Luther Vandross, Al Jarreau, Wayne Shorter, Take 6 and
Chaka Khan, and he has written highly-rated film scores. In 2008 Miller recorded S.M.V. with fellow bassists
Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten.
Marcus Miller began focusing on his solo career with 1993's The Sun Don't Lie. His series of CDs have
included several award winners including the Grammy winner M-Squared. Inspiring his band with his forceful
but subtle electric bass and taking an occasional feature on bass clarinet, Miller performs music that is
sometimes reminiscent of Miles Davis last group (a recent tour was titled “Tutu Revisited”) but also includes
his own writing, elements from other areas of music, and Marcus Miller's special brand of funk.
Guesting with Miller's band at Playboy will be the 27-year old up-and-coming trumpeter Christian Scott. The
latest great brassman to emerge from New Orleans, Scott began playing trumpet when he was 12. He gained
early experience playing with his uncle altoist Donald Harrison and studied at the New Orleans Center for the
Creative Arts and at Berklee. In 2006 he signed with Concord, recording Rewind That which gave him a high
profile and critical recognition.
Christian Scott, who most recently recorded Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, has roots in traditional jazz but is
forging his own fresh new musical path, just as Marcus Miller has for the past 30 years.
THE CLAYTON-HAMILTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA
VERY MUCH A FAMILY BAND, THE CLAYTON-HAMILTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA has long been one of the
most popular big bands in the Los Angeles area. But more than that, in 2004 it won the prestigious Downbeat
poll as the #1 jazz orchestra in the world.
In 1986 John Clayton, his brother Jeff Clayton and Jeff Hamilton formed the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
which they co-lead. John Clayton, a brilliant bassist who was a protege of Ray Brown and takes exquisite
bowed solos, was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra for two years. He is also a greatly in-demand
arranger who has written for scores of projects including dates with Diana Krall, Gene Harris, Natalie Cole,
John Pizzarelli, the Metropole Orchestra, Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Benson, Whitney Houston, Gladys
Knight, Regina Carter, Michael Buble, Queen Latifah and the WDR Big Band.
Jeff Hamilton, a superb drummer equally at home with small combos and big bands and known for his
expertise with brushes, worked with the Woody Herman Orchestra, the L.A. Four, Ella Fitzgerald, the Basie
band, Oscar Peterson and the Ray Brown Trio. Jeff Clayton, skilled on all of the reed instruments but best
known as an altoist, works with John as the Clayton Brothers (starting in 1977), also had a brief stint with
Basie, and has been on many studio sessions in Los Angeles.
When John Clayton and his best friend Jeff Hamilton played together in the Monty Alexander Trio, they
dreamed of putting together a big band modeled a bit after the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis group. A decade later,
the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra became reality.
Although the mid-1980s were not necessarily the best time to debut a new jazz big band, the orchestra was
successful from the start. Featuring John Clayton's arrangements, Jeff Clayton leading the saxophone section,
and Jeff Hamilton driving the band, the orchestra quickly caught on in Los Angeles due to its swinging sound,
colorful soloists and irresistible spirit. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra was the house band at the
Hollywood Bowl during 1999-2001 with John Clayton being the artistic director of jazz for the Los Angeles
The orchestra is featured on six CDs (most recent is Live At MCG) in addition to recording with John Pizzarelli,
Rosemary Clooney, Gladys Knight and Diana Krall. In addition, John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton often tour as
members of Krall's quartet.
At this year's Playboy Jazz Festival, the swinging Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra will be paying a special
tribute to the late great drummer Louie Bellson, a Duke Ellington alumnus who led his own orchestra at earlier
editions of Playboy.
A GRADUATE OF THE FINAL VERSION OF ART BLAKEY'S JAZZ MESSENGERS, JAVON JACKSON helps
to keep the hard bop legacy alive. While he is part of the jazz tradition, Jackson also has his own sound, his
solos are unpredictable, and he has long had a major voice on the tenor-sax.
Jackson grew up in Cleveland and Denver before studying at Berklee during 1984-86. He was a member of the
Jazz Messengers during 1987-90, learning from the hard-driving drumming of Art Blakey. In the years since,
Jackson has worked with the Harper Brothers, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Benny Green, Freddie Hubbard,
Elvin Jones, Ron Carter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Bobby Hutcherson, Curtis Fuller, the Blue Note All-Stars, Stanley
Turrentine and Louis Hayes in addition to leading his own bands.
Jackson has appeared on over 125 recordings including leading 11 CDs for such labels as Criss Cross, Blue
Note and Palmetto. His most recent recording is Once Upon A Melody for Palmetto. With his own group,
Javon Jackson incorporates aspects of soul jazz, funk, r&b and rock into his brand of straight ahead jazz.
A special guest with Javon Jackson's group at Playboy will be the great singer-keyboardist Les McCann.
McCann began his career in 1956 when he was serving in the Navy. He won a talent contest as a singer that
resulted in him appearing on the television's Ed Sullivan Show. After his discharge, McCann worked in Los
Angeles for years as the leader of his own piano trio. His brand of funky jazz became quite popular and
influential, and he recorded with such greats as Ben Webster, Richard “Groove Holmes, Blue Mitchell, Stanley
Turrentine, Joe Pass and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra. While at first his singing was just occasional, by the
mid-1960s that was gradually changing.
At the 1968 Montreux Jazz Festival, Les McCann's trio teamed up with Eddie Harris and trumpeter Benny
Bailey for a spontaneous set that included the catchy “Cold Duck Time” and his classic vocal on “Compared To
What.” The resulting record, Swiss Movement, gave McCann fame beyond the jazz world and made him in
demand as a singer. In the early 1970s he became a pioneer in utilizing electric keyboards. McCann has been
very popular in the decades since. A mid-1990s stroke put him out of action for a time but his comeback has
Together at Playboy, Javon Jackson and Les McCann will be performing “Compared To What” and other soul
A UNIQUE ENSEMBLE THAT ENGAGES IN WHAT THEY CALL “VOCAL PLAY,” NATURALLY 7 is an a
cappella group that closely emulates instruments, sounding remarkably like an instrumental band
Roger Thomas, the founder of Naturally 7, spent the early part of his career gaining a wide variety of
experience singing with other a cappella groups. He first formed Naturally 7 to perform at a major a cappella
competition in New York. After the ensemble won, Thomas decided to form a permanent group. In 1999 with
his brother Warren Thomas and five other singers, Naturally 7 became reality.
During the next few years, Naturally 7 developed their unique style. Roger Thomas, who is responsible for the
group's arrangements, sings lead baritone. Warren Thomas, who always wanted to be a drummer but was
originally told by his parents that the drums were too noisy, learned to emulate percussion sounds along with,
guitar and clarinet. The other vocalists followed with Rod Eldridge singing trumpet lines, Jamal Reed sounding
like an electric guitar, Garfield Buckley imitating a harmonica, Dwight Stewart being the second baritone and
Hops Hutton covering the bottom by sounding like a bass.
The turning point in the band's fortune was in 2007 when they toured Europe, Canada, Australia and the
United States as the opening act for Michael Buble. The exposure led to a momentum that has continued to
this time. Naturally 7 has appeared on the Ellen Show and The Today Show, opened for Jay Leno in Las Vegas,
sung at the Montreux Jazz Festival as part of Quincy Jones' 75th birthday, and performed before Prince
Charles at London's Royal Variety TV show.
Naturally 7 has thus far recorded such CDs as Non Fiction, What Is It, Christmas...It's A Love Story and Ready
II Fly. The latter includes the best-selling “Feel It (In The Air Tonight)” which is a major You Tube hit,
featuring the vocal ensemble singing in a Paris subway. Their most recent recordings are Wall Of Sound which
entered the British charts in the Top 30, and VocalPlay which also includes an extensive DVD.
Naturally 7 is in its own category. While a cappella is considered vocalizing without instruments, Naturally 7's
Vocal Play can be defined as singing as instruments. Their debut at the Playboy Jazz Festival promises to be a
particularly intriguing and memorable event.
ALREADY ESTABLISHED AS ONE OF JAZZ'S TOP GUITARISTS, GEORGE BENSON reached the turning
point of his career in 1976. On an otherwise instrumental album called Breezin', Benson took a vocal on “This
Masquerade” that changed his life.
Ironically Benson, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, had made his recording debut in 1954 on four songs
as a 10-year old singer. He had been performing in nightclubs since the age of eight. As a teenager he took up
the guitar, initially forming a rock band. But he soon became interested in jazz, with Charlie Christian and Wes
Montgomery being his early inspirations.
While a member of organist Jack McDuff's band during 1962-65, Benson matched wits nightly with McDuff
and saxophonist Red Holloway on hard-swinging soul jazz jams. He recorded his first album as a leader in 1964
(The New Boss Guitar) and began heading his own band in 1965, cutting two highly rated albums for Columbia.
During the next few years, he continued rising in stature, appearing on Miles Davis' Miles In The Sky and being
featured on recordings as the lead voice with large ensembles. After he signed with CTI, Benson was
showcased on all-star sessions (both as a leader and a sideman) that sometimes included such notables as
Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine and Hubert Laws. His own album White Rabbit helped to introduce
fellow guitarist Earl Klugh.
And then came “This Masquerade,” which introduced to most fans his warm singing voice and his ability to
scat in unison with his guitar. It became a surprise sensation that quickly became a constant on the radio. Over
night, George Benson was a household name. Like Nat King Cole, Benson had had his career transformed by a
hit vocal record. His recordings for the next few years emphasized his vocal talents and, while his guitar
playing took a backseat, he never lost the ability to play heated solos in his own sound.
In the years since, Benson has become expert at balancing his vocal and instrumental skills. He recorded with
McCoy Tyner and made a CD with the Count Basie Orchestra. He has also shared the spotlight with Al Jarreau
(Givin' It Up) and recorded both jazz standards and r&b classics. In other words, George Benson has done
whatever he wanted musically and been successful in all areas, winning ten Grammies so far.
Always a hit at the Playboy Jazz Festival, getting the audience dancing during “On Broadway,” George Benson
will be making his 6th appearance this year.
THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER
ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREAT VOCAL GROUPS, THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER is remarkable on several
levels. Outside of the Mills Brothers, what other vocal group has had the same personnel for 32 years and been
together for 38? But longevity aside, unlike most veteran bands, the Manhattan Transfer is constantly
creative, looking for new music to perform as can be heard in their recent recording, The Chick Corea
Tim Hauser was originally part of an earlier version of Manhattan Transfer that recorded one album in the late
1960s. In 1972 he was working as a cab driver and one day his fare was Laurel Masse, a singer who was familiar
with the record. She was recruited for a new ensemble that he wanted to form, and they were soon joined by
Janis Siegel and Alan Paul. After a lot of rehearsing and discussion, the group started performing in New York
night clubs in 1974. Within a year they had recorded their debut for Atlantic. The Manhattan Transfer had
their own television series during the summer of 1975, their single “Operator” became a hit, and they were on
their way. There would be one change. A car accident in 1978 resulted in Laurel Masse deciding to drop out of
the group; her permanent replacement was Cheryl Bentyne.
The members of the Manhattan Transfer were always interested in a wide variety of music and styles, not
wanting to be stereotyped or categorized in just one musical area. Initially the Transfer was pegged as a
nostalgia swing group but soon it was obvious that they were not shy to also perform rock & roll, gospel,
bebop, Brazilian songs, pop and Latin music, often in the same set. Each year the Manhattan Transfer adds
more songs to their repertoire, conquering more musical worlds. The results are that their performances are
continually inventive and unpredictable, even while being tight and well choreographed. The four singers each
have their own musical personalities and very flexible voices yet they blend together perfectly, creating a
memorable group sound.
Among the many recorded highlights of the Manhattan Transfer's career has been their hit version of
“Birdland” (which they performed one year at Playboy in a stunning collaboration with Weather Report), their
infectious “The Boy From New York City” and such albums as Vocalese (with strong contributions from Jon
Hendricks), Brasil, Swing, The Christmas Album, Spirit Of St. Louis (a tribute to Louis Armstrong), the live CD
Couldn't Be Hotter and The Chick Corea Songbook.
The Manhattan Transfer has not been back to Playboy since that legendary “Birdland” performance. Their
appearance during this weekend is long overdue for they are still one of the premiere vocal groups in the world.
BOBBY HUTCHERSON-CEDAR WALTON QUARTET
TWO OF JAZZ'S GREATEST VETERANS, VIBRAPHONIST BOBBY HUTCHERSON AND PIANIST CEDAR
WALTON, will show this year's audience at Playboy what swinging jazz is all about.
Cedar Walton was born in Dallas in 1934. He was first taught piano by his mother. Walton attended the
University of Denver and moved to New York in 1955 where he was soon drafted. While in the Army, he was
stationed in Germany where he had an opportunity to play with some top American jazz musicians including
Eddie Harris, Don Ellis and Leo Wright. After his discharge, Walton became greatly in-demand in New York,
playing with Kenny Dorham, J.J. Johnson and the Jazztet. He found his first fame while a member of Art
Blakey's Jazz Messengers during 1961-64, a period of time when he composed such numbers as “Bolivia,”
“Ugetsu” and “Mosaic.” Influenced initially by Bud Powell, Walton soon had his own sound within the straight
ahead hard bop style and he was a major asset with the Jazz Messengers, playing alongside Freddie Hubbard,
Wayne Shorter and Curtis Fuller.
After leaving Blakey, Walton worked with Abbey Lincoln (1965-66), had a band with Hank Mobley in the early
1970s, and led a band later in that decade called Eastern Rebellion. He has been a sideman on many recordings
including with Lee Morgan, Lucky Thompson, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Blue Mitchell, Jimmy Heath,
Clifford Jordan, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Red, Milt Jackson, Joe Henderson, Donald Byrd, Houston Person,
Teddy Edwards, Pat Martino, Charles McPherson, Art Farmer, Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine, Sonny
Stitt, Johnny Griffin, Hank Crawford, Frank Morgan, Slide Hampton, Benny Carter, Kenny Burrell and Roy
Hargrove. Cedar Walton has also led his own trios for years and headed many record dates, including meeting
up with Bobby Hutcherson as members of the Timeless All Stars.
As one of the great vibraphonists, Bobby Hutcherson was a natural successor to Milt Jackson although he soon
went his own way. Born in Los Angeles in 1941, he began playing vibes as a teenager after hearing one of
Jackson's records. He played locally with Curtis Amy and Charles Lloyd and spent 1960 as a member of a
group co-led by Al Grey and Billy Mitchell. After moving to New York in 1961, Hutcherson was often utilized
not only for hard bop dates but on some of the most interesting avant-garde sessions recorded by Blue Note
including Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch, Grachan Moncur's Evolution and Jackie McLean's One Step Beyond.
He also appeared on records by Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Andrew Hill, Herbie Hancock and Grant
Green, and started leading record dates of his own in 1965.
In 1967 the vibraphonist returned to Los Angeles, co-leading an adventurous group with tenor-saxophonist
Harold Land for a few years. Since that time, Hutcherson has appeared on a countless number of sessions
including with Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner and the San Francisco Jazz
After all of these years, Cedar Walton and Bobby Hutcherson are still at the top of their field and very much in
their musical prime.
BECAUSE SHE MADE SUCH A STRONG IMPACT AT THE 2009 PLAYBOY JAZZ FESTIVAL, BASSIST-
VOCALIST ESPERANZA SPALDING is back this year for an encore performance.
Considered a youthful sensation, Esperanza has been everywhere during the past two years, yet at 25, she is
still in the early part of what will certainly be a very significant career.
Born in Portland, Oregon in 1984, when she was four, Esperanza saw cellist Yo Yo Ma playing on an episode of
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. She knew right then that music would be her life. The next year she began
playing violin. A member of the Chamber Music Society of Oregon as a child, at 15 she was appointed its
concertmaster. Esperanza also played oboe and clarinet. But when she spontaneously picked up an acoustic
bass in a music class and began improvising on it, it was the turning point of her musical life. The classical
violinist quickly became a jazz bassist.
Esperanza soon developed the rare skill of singing and playing bass at the same time. As a teenager she
appeared in clubs, often performing her own songs. At 16 she enrolled at Portland State University, graduating
with a B.A. in just three years. Her musical talents became more obvious each year. Esperanza attended the
Berklee College of Music, toured with Patti Austin as part of her “For Ella” tour and, when she graduated a year
early in 2005, she became the youngest faculty member in Berklee's history. She was still just 20.
In 2005, Esperanza Spalding won the Boston Jazz Society’s scholarship for outstanding musicianship. She
soon had the opportunity to play and tour with such major jazz musicians as Joe Lovano, Regina Carter, Pat
Metheny, Michel Camilo, Charlie Haden, Donald Harrison and Dave Samuels.
But that was only the beginning. In 2006, she recorded her first album, Junjo, which has been followed more
recently by Esperanza. While she has also recorded with Christian Scott, Stanley Clarke, Mike Stern and Joe
Lovano (with whom she appeared at the 2009 Monterey Jazz Festival), Esperanza has become in great demand
as a leader and, increasingly, as a headliner at jazz festivals. Her diverse repertoire, which includes her
originals and occasional standards, has both vocal pieces (in English and Spanish) and stirring instrumentals
that focus on her powerful bass playing.
A major attraction, Esperanza Spalding has performed for Barack Obama at the White House, on The Late
Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and in clubs all across the country.
Esperanza Spalding, who can play anything from Afro-Cuban jazz and Brazilian music to funk, blues and pop,
has endless potential. And she is still just 25.
IRVIN MAYFIELD AND THE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ ORCHESTRA
A BRILLIANT TRUMPETER, IRVIN MAYFIELD has been one of the main spokesmen for his home town of
New Orleans, serving as its Cultural Ambassador since 2003.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Mayfield started on trumpet in the fourth grade with the first song he learned
being the hymn “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.” He gained important experience playing with the Algiers
Brass Band. Developing a beautiful tone and a wide range, Mayfield was always very interested in New Orleans
music of all types, past, present and future. He graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and
on the advice of Ellis Marsalis, attended the University of New Orleans.
By 1998 when he was 20, he was the leader of the Irvin Mayfield Septet and one of the founders of Los
Hombres Calientes, a band that mixes together New Orleans jazz with Afro-Cuban jazz and r&b. The latter
group, which originally included drummer Jason Marsalis and percussionist Bill Summers, became quite
popular, recording several CDs for the Basin Street label.
In late 2002, Mayfield organized the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, becoming its artistic director. The group is
currently based at Tulane University and has a residency program at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
With the orchestra, Mayfield explores the heritage of New Orleans jazz while continuing to move the music
forward, adding to the rich legacy of his native city. Their recording of Mayfield's original suite Strange Fruit
is emotional and quite memorable.
As a busy educator, Mayfield became the artist-in-residence at the Dillard University in 1995, founding the
University's Institute of Jazz Culture in 2002. He also is the founder and the director of the New Orleans Jazz
Institute at the University of New Orleans. He has taught at many free clinics, master classes and workshops
while spreading the gospel of New Orleans music.
Irvin Mayfield, who lost his father during Hurricane Katrina, has appeared at many benefits since that time
including the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert. As the city of New Orleans' Cultural
Ambassador, he has worked hard to keep the country's attention on rebuilding New Orleans before its rich
musical heritage is lost. And along the way, as on Half Past Autumn Suite (a commissioned work written in
honor of photographer Gordon Parks) and the duet album with Ellis Marsalis called Love Songs, Ballads And
Standards, Mayfield has consistently shown that he is one of jazz's finest trumpeters.
Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra are making their debut at this year's Playboy Jazz Festival.
JAZZ MAFIA'S BRASS BOWS AND BEATS
IMAGINE A 50-PIECE ORCHESTRA WITH NO MUSICAL BORDERS THAT MIXES TOGETHER
TURNTABLES AND ELECTRONIC INSTRUMENTS WITH STRINGS, JAZZ WITH HIP HOP. THE JAZZ
MAFIA'S BRASS, BOWS AND BEATS has been crowned an innovative new work by those who have heard it,
and the ensemble's extensive tour this summer promises to bring it quite a bit of notoriety and acclaim.
The Jazz Mafia, founded by composer-bassist-trombonist Adam Theis in 1998, has been a potent musical
force in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past decade, blurring the division between musical genres. In fact,
quite a few bands have emerged out of the core of talents that make up the Jazz Mafia. The Jazz Mafia Horns
(who have recorded with Carlos Santana), The Shotgun Wedding Quintet, the Realistic Orchestra,
Supertaster, Brass Mafia, the Jazz Mafia Trio, Spaceheater and the Shotgun Wedding Hip Hop Symphony
have all invigorated the Northern California creative music scene.
But Brass, Bows & Beats is the Jazz Mafia's most ambitious project yet. Developed with the assistance of a
$50,000 grant from The Wallace Alexander Gerbode and William and Flora Hewlett Foundations, this
lengthy and unusual work expands upon the jazz tradition without losing its essence. Imagine Latin and hip
hop rhythms, heated solos and wistful ballads, all played with the hint (and sometimes the structure) of a
classical symphony, but one performed for an audience who loves to dance and groove. In this extensive
work, one can hear not only the history and legacy of American music but its future, all mixed together in
Under the direction of Adam Theis and featuring such important contributors as singer Joe Bagale, guitarist
Jon Monahan and trombonist Jeanne Geiger, Brass, Bows & Beats had its debut at San Francisco's Palace of
Fine Arts and created such a stir that the huge ensemble is hitting the road this summer. Having sold out six
shows at Yoshi's, the Jazz Mafia (which ranges from 40 to 60 pieces) is set to perform Brass, Bows & Beats at
the Newport Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival and the San Jose Jazz Festival.
But first the Jazz Mafia makes its debut at Playboy, where this weekend's audience has the opportunity to be
amazed by what they experience.