On his second album for the Basin Street label, 22-year-old trumpeter Irvin Mayfield remains strongly influenced by his mentor Wynton Marsalis. The extent of the influence seems deliberately underscored by a video clip, included on this enhanced CD, that shows Marsalis giving Mayfield track-by-track feedback on his new work. (Mayfield listens receptively, at times squirming in his seat.) The compositions ripple with modern, hard-hitting, post-bop swing and a variety of subtle Latin influences -- very much the kind of music Marsalis was making in the mid- to late '80s. While Mayfield's music benefits to some extent from its association with the best aspects of Marsalis's writing style, on the whole it lacks a certain individuality. Still, his trumpet playing swings with a confident lyricism, and his band is as sensitive and cooking as each occasion demands. Aesthetically, Mayfield's thematic concept -- the emotional pendulum of romance -- at first seems overdone, but it actually makes for a compelling musical narrative. Tracks named for various mental states provoked by romantic passion (e.g., "The Obsession," "The Denial") alternate with tracks named for famous couples from biblical and literary history (e.g., "Othello & Desdemona," "David & Bathsheba"). Joining Mayfield are alto and soprano saxophonist Aaron Fletcher (from Terence Blanchard's band), pianist Richard Johnson, bassist Edwin Livingston, and drummer Jaz Sawyer. Bill Summers, Mayfield's bandmate in Los Hombres Calientes, contributes bata drums on "Adam & Eve," and Ellis Marsalis plays lush piano behind Mayfield's wah-wah trumpet on the powerful "Romeo & Juliet." Altoist Donald Harrison guests on "David & Bathsheba," and Delfeayo Marsalis, the album's producer, blows trombone on "The Denial" and "The Reality." That makes three members of the Marsalis family who appear in some capacity on this album. Of course, acknowledging a debt of gratitude on a record makes sense. Basking in the Marsalis glow has its public relations benefits as well. But Mayfield will at some point need to make the step from a young protégé to an independent artist.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler