Irvin Mayfield is a Grammy award-winning trumpeter and bandleader who is a well-known cultural ambassador for New Orleans. With A New Orleans Creole Christmas, he gifts us with a delightful Christmas recording made in true jazz style at a live recording session at Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse on Bourbon Street with The New Orleans Jazz Playhouse Revue.
The eight songs on the recording are all old favorites, easily recognizable and yet entirely new in execution. Mayfield’s trumpet soars over the other instruments, which provide skilled and joyful accompaniment.
“O Tannenbaum – O Christmas Tree” starts things off with a real New Orleans party feel as Derek Douget on saxophone weaves magic under Mayfield’s trumpet. Then things slow down for a thoughtful and elegant take on “Silent Night,” featuring Ronald Markham on piano and Mayfield’s muted trumpet. Markham also duets with Mayfield on the very cool and suave take on “Winter Wonderland.”
We’ve all heard “The Christmas Song” hundreds of times but this soft jazz version, featuring Jason Marshall on baritone sax, is worth hearing again and again. Next comes the recording’s only vocal, with Michael Watson providing a smooth but soulful version of “Christmas Time Is Here.”Drummer Adonis Rose’s cymbals add some spice to the modern jazz rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” on which all the horns work together to provide a lightness to the arrangement. “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” then takes us back to church Creole style with that marvelous trumpet before the CD ends with an instrumental reprise of “Christmas Time Is Here.”
A Creole Christmas is obviously a joyous time indeed and this CD will be a marvelous gift, first to yourself and then to all the jazz lovers, Christmas music lovers, and people who love New Orleans (whether they have been there or not) on your Christmas list. Play it for your Christmas party to make sure everyone gets in the holiday mood, and play it in your car to help make all your holiday shopping and travel much less stressful. As far as jazz is concerned, I have never enjoyed any album more than I did this one.
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