DATE July 14, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
PROGRAM Fresh Air
Filler: By policy of WHYY, this information is restricted and has
been omitted from this transcript
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Review: Virginia Mayhew's new CD "Phantoms"
TERRY GROSS, host:
Saxophonist Virginia Mayhew comes from California, where she played gigs with
Cab Calloway, Earl Hines and Frank Zappa. After moving to New York, she sat
in with several big bands, including Toshiko Akiyoshi's and the women's jazz
orchestra Diva. Later in the year, she'll do a State Department tour of
Mayhew came up playing alto saxophone, but features the heftier tenor on a new
quartet CD. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says the bigger horn suits her as
well as the company she keeps.
(Soundbite of "I Love You")
KEVIN WHITEHEAD reporting:
Tenor saxophonist Virginia Mayhew on Cole Porter's "I Love You." This spiffy
staccato arrangement, the way trumpeter Ingrid Jensen fills in behind that
solo, the way the drummer and bassist sync up so you don't miss a
piano--that's the sound of quality workmanship. It's typical of Mayhew's
quartet CD "Phantoms," whose pleasures have at least as much to do with the
way the parts fit together as the parts themselves. You could also say that
about New Orleans jazz or Count Basie's rhythm section. The sound is built
from strong instrumental voices, starting with the leaders.
(Soundbite of music)
WHITEHEAD: Virginia Mayhew has a nice mix of brawny tone and lyrical
conception on tenor. Her playing on soprano sax brings out her melodic side,
too. Either horn dovetails with Ingrid Jensen's warm tone and jabbing attack
on trumpet or fluglehorn. The tuneful bassist is Harvie S.; he used to be
known as Harvie Swartz. And on bass is Allison Miller, something of a
(Soundbite of "Babble On")
WHITEHEAD: "Babble On" by composer Steve Swallow.
Despite high spirits there and elsewhere, a subdued air hangs over much of
this New York music recorded last fall. Virginia Mayhew says that in some
tunes she picked--I'm quoting here--"There was an underlying feeling that
reflected the way the tragedies of September 11th affected me on an emotional
(Soundbite of "Phantoms")
WHITEHEAD: That's "Phantoms" by Kenny Barron, written before 9/11. It's
redolent of New Yorkers' fortitude and forbearance, anyway, but then musicians
and listeners bring their own baggage to this or any music. The elegiac
quality of Virginia Mayhew's CD suggests the wisdom of dealing with that
massive civic trauma indirectly. She catches some of the city's mood in the
aftermath, including a willingness to pull together and make things work.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: Kevin Whitehead writes for the Chicago Reader and the Chicago
Sun-Times. He reviewed "Phantoms," the new CD by saxophonist Virginia Mayhew.
GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
We'll close with a recording by Benny Carter. The saxophonist, composer,
arranger and bandleader died Saturday at the age of 95. His recording career
spanned from the 1920s to the 1990s. This is his 1936 recording of one of his
best-known compositions, "When Lights Are Low." Elisabeth Welch is the
(Soundbite of "When Lights Are Low")
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