Hanging out with Bill Summers and Irvin Mayfield is a bit like being around a longtime happily married couple. As we talk in the living room of Mayfield’s newly acquired Uptown New Orleans home on a warm February day, the leaders of the fast-rising group Los Hombres Calientes joust, laugh, joke and finish each other’s sentences. If Summers disagrees on a particular aspect of a story, he often mouths words behind Mayfield’s back to relay that his partner has it all wrong. Mayfield, aware of the signage, might react by rolling his eyes in mock indignation or bursting into a fit of laughter.
“Irvin and I see things differently all the time,” says Summers, a master percussionist and ethnomusicologist who is most widely recognized for his work with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. “He sees red; I see white. He wants to go up; I want to go down. We don’t work together-we work against each other, which works out for us.”