Virginia Mayhew

Nini Green

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Virginia Mayhew is a strong hard bop-based saxophonist with a sound of her own. For her debut as a leader, Mayhew is quite effective on tenor, alto, and soprano, heading a sextet also including the fiery trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Harvie Swartz, drummer Adam Cruz, and percussionist Leon Parker. The solos of the two horns and Barron are consistently excellent, and all eight selections are quite rewarding. Most impressive (and a major factor in this set being on a much higher level than a jam session) is the leader's writing. Her "Nini Green" is melodic and catchy enough to become a standard, and Barron's sensitive playing during the opening of Mayhew's "Maybe Someday" is quite touching. Virginia Mayhew's lyrical soprano on an extended version of "Good Morning Heartache" and the exciting rendition of the pianist's "Voyage" are two additional highlights. The saxophonist (who also performs three other fine originals and "Invitation") wraps up the date with a closing two-and-a-half-minute "Jazzspeak," during which she discusses how the session came about. This exciting set is highly recommended.

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