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Irvin Mayfield’s in Overdrive

Irvin Mayfield, the new hardest working man in show business?

Let’s face it, the trumpeter’s been close to unstoppable in 2003, writing, performing, recording and releasing albums left and right, both as a solo artist (January’s Half Past Autumn Suite, his ode to photographer Gordon Parks) and with his globetrotting companion Bill Summers as Los Hombres Calientes (Vol. 4: Vodou Dance, released this past March).

On November 7 the city of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana announced that Mayfield has been appointed to be the international Cultural Ambassador to the City of New Orleans.

Mayfield is no stranger to cultural exchange. Los Hombres Calientes’ Vol. 4: Vodou Dance found Mayfield and Summers traveling to Cuba, Trinidad, Haiti, Jamaica and Brazil to soak up the countries’ rich musical heritages and mingle them with their own New Orleans stylings.

In May’s issue of JazzTimes Mayfield said about the boundary-breaking Los Hombres, “We’re doing what Dizzy Gillespie was trying to do and what he really started. He paved the way for us to take the concept of cultural exchange and really do it.”

As the city’s cultural ambassador Mayfield will be expected to use his international status as a jazz musician to facilitate diplomatic relationships and dialogue to promote cultural exchange and economic development, speaking with community leaders around the globe about the role of arts and culture and how they can play an integral role in helping to stimulate economic growth.

If anyone is up for an extra workload it’s Mayfield, and he’s already hard at work at his new post.

This December, Mayfield will be shipped off to Thailand to perform for the 75th-birthday celebration of King Rama IX, Bhumibol Adulyadej Maharaja. Next fall, Mayfield will bring his sounds to Mexico for a special performance for President Vicente Fox.

This year also saw the debut of his New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Mayfield’s answer to his former mentor Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. And this past month the NOJO debuted Strange Fruit, Mayfield’s most ambitious project to date. The 500-page, nine-movement, 90-minute tour-de-force chorale tells the heartbreaking story of lynching in the Old South. The project recently premiered for an audience at Louisiana’s Dillard University, where Mayfield serves as director for the school’s brand new Institute of Jazz Culture.

When does this guy get a chance to sleep?

With all this extra work piling up one would assume it would be a while before we get to hear some new music from Los Hombres Calientes.

Well, what did your mother tell you about assuming?

Word around the block is that Mayfield and Summers have already made tentative plans to record a new Los Hombres album, possibly in South Africa, using musicians from Mayfield’s New Orleans Jazz Orchestra for the tour.

Speaking of tours, Los Hombres Calientes have announced dates for forthcoming performances extending through April of next year:

11/7/03 • New Orleans, LA • LA SPCA’s Howling Success Benefit at Generations Hall

11/8/03 • Chester, VT • Green Mountain Festival

11/23/03 • New Orleans, LA • Orpheum Theater (w/ Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield)

2/14/04 • College Park, MD • Kay Theatre, University of Maryland

3/3/04 • Philadelphia, PA • Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

4/17/04 • Cape May, NJ • Cape May Jazz Festival

4/19/04 • Pittsburgh, PA • Master Class

4/20/04 • Pittsburgh, PA • Byham Theater

4/22/04 • Mississippi State, MS • Mississippi State University

8/11/04 • Hollywood, CA • Hollywood Bowl

8/28/04 • Park City, UT • Park City Jazz Festival

And Basin Street Records is prepping a Los Hombres DVD to be released on April 20, 2004. For a preview, go here: www.nola.com/music.

Good Lord, Irvin! Switch to decaf!

For more information on Irvin Mayfield including tour dates, news and press visit www.irvinmayfield.com. Or go to www.basinstreetrecords.com

Originally Published