Artistic Director of Jazz at Orchestra Hall
Irvin Mayfield, the Minnesota Orchestra’s first artistic director of jazz, is one of his generation’s top jazz artists—as both performer and composer—as well as a passionate spokesman for jazz and his native city of New Orleans. He founded and is leader of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), which tours internationally. The group’s first major recording, Book One, on the World Village label, won a 2010 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. He is the co-founder of Los Hombres Calientes, a Grammy-nominated Afro-Cuban jazz group that has appeared on the Jazz at Orchestra Hall series.
Mayfield was commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra to write a work, The Art of Passion, that was premiered by the Orchestra and the Irvin Mayfield Quintet in July 2009. As artistic director of jazz, he has curated programs that have featured emerging jazz vocalist Lizz Wright, clarinetist Evan Christopher and a sold-out reunion of Los Hombres Calientes. In December 2010 he hosted and performed a holiday show with the Orchestra and songstress Dee Dee Bridgewater, and in 2011 he curated performances by jazz greats Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Maceo Parker. In April 2012 he performed in a program based on his latest release, A Love Letter to New Orleans, an illustrated book and CD package that includes songs, essays and reflections on his ten years of recordings on Basin Street Records.
Among his additional compositions are The Half-Past Autumn Suite, Strange Fruit and All the Saints—which NOJO premiered in November 2005 in one of the first major cultural events held in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Mayfield is also an educator: he founded Dillard University’s Institute of Jazz Culture and is professor and artistic director of New Orleans jazz at the University of New Orleans. In 2008 he founded the New Orleans Jazz Institute (NOJI) at the University of New Orleans, a student orchestra patterned after Mayfield’s own NOJO. In 2003 he was appointed cultural ambassador for the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans; in 2007 he commissioned the building of the Elysian Trumpet, a hand-crafted instrument created in honor of the victims of Hurricane Katrina—one of whom was his father and first trumpet teacher, Irvin Mayfield, Sr. On the forefront of promoting the culture and business of jazz, Mayfield entered into a historic partnership with the Royal Sonesta Hotels in March 2009, opening Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, and in July 2011 he launched Irvin Mayfield’s I Club, a new music venue in partnership with the JW Marriott Hotel. He also serves as president of the New Orleans Public Library Foundation and chairman of the board for the Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation.
In March 2010 Mayfield was named to the National Council on the Arts, a body which advises the National Endowment for the Arts on grant applications and funding categories, and in May 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Dillard University. For more information, visit thenojo.com.