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Fri, 12.23.1977

Irvin Mayfield Jr., Bandleader born

Irvin Mayfield Jr. (2012)

*Irvin Mayfield, Jr. was born on this date in 1977. He is a Black musician, bandleader, and educator.

Mayfield is from New Orleans, Louisiana, the youngest of nine children of Joyce Alsanders and Irvin Mayfield, Sr. His mother was a schoolteacher in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward. His father was a drill sergeant in the United States Army and a boxer who died in the flood after Hurricane Katrina.

Growing up, he played the organ at his church and received his first trumpet in the fourth grade. The first song he learned to play on trumpet was "Just A Closer Walk With Thee." After that, his musical career continued by playing with the Algiers Brass Band. In the late 1990s, he shared an apartment in New York City with Wynton Marsalis.

He graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts NOCCA and was offered a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. He decided to attend the University of New Orleans instead.  In 1998, Mayfield helped found Los Hombres Calientes, a New Orleans jazz group incorporating Afro-Cuban jazz with rhythm & blues. In 2002, Mayfield founded the Institute of Jazz Culture at Dillard University and has been an artist-in-residence since 1995. The mission of the Institute is to combine several educational approaches to jazz music, offering courses that combine music with politics and culture.

That same year, Mayfield founded the sixteen-piece New Orleans Jazz Orchestra; Mayfield serves as artistic director and bandleader. The home of the orchestra has been at Tulane University.  The orchestra also had a residency program at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), including educational workshops and performances. It commissioned musical pieces for debut in Newark, New Jersey. Mayfield also composed "Strange Fruit," a 90-minute opus based in 1920s Louisiana. This occurred on a visit to a photographic exhibit in Atlanta called Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography In America in 2002.

In 2005, he joined Wynton Marsalis and other musicians at the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, Mayfield received a one-year appointment as Artistic Director of Jazz at Orchestra Hall, the jazz series of the Minnesota Orchestra. In this capacity, he will oversee a five-concert jazz series and participate in education programs.  In 2017, after a two-year investigation, Mayfield was indicted for laundering money from the New Orleans Library.

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