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"Mary Lou Williams - The Next 100 Years" was chosen as a top CD for 2012 by JazzTimes Magazine, Rhapsody and Jazzaholic and was CD of the Month at Oklahoma radio station KIOS 91.5.
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More On Virginia Mayhew…
"I had a chance to see Virginia Mayhew a few years ago in a sideman gig where she appeared as part of an all-femme quintet backing a singer. From memory, the other musicians were Allison Miller and Kendra Shank. My recollection of Mayhew's performance was that she was clearly the most pressing reason to be there. She displayed strong and melodic playing on tenor sax, plus a few numbers on soprano sax.
There was nothing tentative about Mayhew's presentation; a sure footed style cast her into a field of many better known saxophonists. She also performed "Montererey Blues," a piece that's included on this album.
Virginia Mayhew's fifth album features a new group and a change of pace for the saxophonist. The cover photo and liners draw similarities between her training and discipline in karate and music. Mayhew is a third-level black belt (Sandan) and named the title composition to reflect this ("Sandan Shuffle"). Mayhew is a transplanted San Franciscan who has been active and living in New York since 1987 as both a leader and sideman.
Mayhew's quartet in a piano-less one, with guitarist Kenny Wessel, veteran bassist Harvie S and drummer Victor "Yahya" Jones. The songs and set list make a varied and interesting combination. While "Sandan Shuffle" has a quirky hard bop feel and fully establishes Mayhew's chops on tenor sax, the following Arlen/Kohler piece "Let's Fall In Love" is reinvented in an attractive calypso/cha cha mode (calling Sonny Rollins West Indian fans!) that I found to be irresistible. Kenny Wessel's guitar is right down the middle on these tracks, with good mainstream solos and comping. Mayhew picks up the soprano sax on "Spring Is Not Here" and the Sinatra-associated ballad "I Get Along Without You Very Well," and she has a delivery that wants to make you here more of it.On "Jazz-like," Wessel adapts a harder edge (a la Rosenwinkel or Scofield) to match Mayhew's tenor sax. The group adapts the Thelonious Monk classic "In Walked Bud" into a post-Millennium funk groove, with Jones playing a backbeat...
All in all, Sandan Shuffle is stimulating and a pleasure to hear."
-Michael P. Gladstone
All About Jazz
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Convention bores Virginia Mayhew. So it's no surprise that Sandan Shuffle, her fourth release as a leader, doesn't merely embrace the unconventional, but seizes it in a bear hug.
Right at the top, the blues-inspired title track is played seven to the bar, not eight and Mayhew's tenor grooves like mad. Her sax smiles throughout an inventive Calypso arrangement of "Let's Fall In Love," with Kenny Wessel laying down cool guitar lines. Bassist Harvie S contributes the song "Now I Know," a ballad in the fine tradition of the Charlie Haden Quartet, and Mayhew wraps her deep tone dreamily around the melody.
Mayhew's fluid soprano works in fine tandem with Wessel's chops on "Spring Is Not Here"; she brightens up the melody as though she's glad spring hasn't arrived! "Jazz-like" opens with a Sam Spade type of theme with Mayhew's muscular tenor setting the pace.
The wonderful "I Thought You Loved Me" shows Mayhew's touch at composing a ballad. The song brings Coltrane's "Acknowledgement" to mind, with its opening tenor statement, pizzicato bridge and extended statement by Mayhew. The band completely funks up Monk's "In Walked Bud," maintaining the original 4/4 meter but giving it an R and B character, thanks to Victor Jones' downright nasty drumming.
Mayhew's tone is gorgeous on her 5/4 arrangement of "Tenderly" and Wessel extracts lovely nuggets from the nooks and crannies of the melody. Mayhew's sad intonation and impeccable phrasing on the soprano underscore the false bravado of "I Can Get Along Without You Very Well," and she reprises her "Monterey Blues," featured on Phantoms (2003), with Wessel's guitar giving it a different flavor and character.
Mayhew plays with robustness and confidence - she's always sounded good, but on Sandan Shuffle she's never sounded better.
-Terrell Kent Holmes
All About Jazz
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"This retrospective yet contemporary record smolders from the first hit. Mayhew's tenor playing is simultaneously strong, swinging and supple." -Chris Robinson, Downbeat Magazine
"…all the fire and finesse Mary Lou herself would have!" -Gary Walker, WBGO Radio
"Jazz for the people...shot through with the blues, human with body heat, alive with many emotions but most of all joy.""Mayhew is a vividly expressive tenor saxophonist with intriguing ideas.." - Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes Magazine
"Mayhew's group swings, romps, and shouts very much in the tradition of Mary Lou Williams' music." - Jerome Wilson, Cadence Magazine
"...Mayhew's tenor sings...with bluesy depth of feeling.....outstanding performances and arrangements" - Scott Albin, JazzTimes Magazine
"...impeccable arrangements...Mayhew's nice fat tenor sound with an infectious swing and dynamic phrasing...keen melodic timing and that special sound some tenor players work their entire careers for and never find...the perfect musician to take on a project such as this." - Brent Black, @CriticalJazz
"Mayhew's bluesy runs are infectious.... has succeeded magnificently in sharing Williams' talents with strong swing-based and blues influences. I highly recommend this superb CD!" - Jeff Krow, Audiophile Audition
"A gutsy and resourceful tenor player..." - Steve Futterman, Jazziz Magazine
"Saxophonist Virginia Mayhew is a rare forwarding-looking artist who doesn't mind looking back." - Dan McClenaghan, AllAboutJazz.com
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“a first-rate outing ...a small big-band feel, a mainstream-with-twist sensibility, solid writing and inspired playing.” -DownBeat Magazine
"This is about the coolest cover art you'll ever see... and the music is every bit as cool! Downbeat Magazine has tagged Virginia Mayhew a "rising star,' but it seems to me her star has risen, high in the sky. A Simple Thank You is mainstream jazz at its most marvelous." - Dan McClenaghan, AllAboutJazz.com
"Thank You Uncle Edward" and "A Simple Thank You are both gems... with fantastic musicianship... wonderful arrangements... and great style. Kudos to all concerned! "- Bob Collins,, WRHU
"A model for straight-ahead playing, full of lively tunes, clean arrangements, and well-crafted solos. " - K.S., Arts & Entertainment, Philadelphia Enquirer
"A simple thank YOU [Virginia] for making such a hip record. I'm going to hum the parking fairy song next time I need a space. Thanks for the tip." - Gary Walker, WBGO Jazz 88
"...easily Virginia Mayhew's best recording to date." -Ken Dryden, AllAboutJazz.com
"Sax savant Virginia Mayhew succeeds in bringing us a totally viable bebop oriented project of extremely high quality. Mayhew plays her ax with bright bebop lines & impressionistic figures... hard to find a more energetic musical group... unabated spontaneous & swinging style." - George W. Carroll, The Musicians' Ombudsman
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"Who's this Virginia Mayhew woman anyway, Dexter Gordon's daughter? Sonny Rollins' niece? She plays the saxophone like a blood relative of those two giants on Sandan Shuffle. Actually, we know the reedist well from her standout 2003 effort, Phantoms, as an artist who has embraced the mainstream mode and ridden it with vigor and supreme assurance into the top level of straightahead saxophonists.
"Since Dexter Gordon's name came up, Mayhew opens the disc with the original title tune, which features her tenor sax sounding strong and loose and relaxed, Gordon-like, over a bouncing rhythm. This good-time composition is about as danceable and engaging as a piece of music can get.
"And since Sonny Rollins' name came up, track two, the classic Harold Arlen gem "Let's Fall in Love," goes into a Rollins-esque calypso/cha cha groove, with Mayhew's tone blowing hearty and robust, and first-call bassist Harvie S sounding especially elastic in the rhythm.
"Mayhew wrote four of these tunes, revisiting her classic "Monterey Blues" from Phantoms. Two more numbers were penned by bassist Harvie S; and the group takes on Monk with an especially fine, funky and loose-limbed rendition of "In Walked Bud." The saxophonist breaks out the soprano horn on Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and on Mayhew's own classic-sounding "Spring is Not Here."
"With 2003's Phantoms, Virginia Mayhew claimed a spot on the top level of jazz saxophonists. Sandan Shuffle backs that claim up." - Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
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"Virginia Mayhew is a master of her arts." - Jamila Bey, JazzTimes
"A Five-star masterwork... Phantoms is the most impressive recording of the year for these ears. It is as joyful as it is stimulating. This is a classic jazz recording that I strongly recommend... Record of the Year." - Mark E. Gallo, JazzReview.com
Best Ten New Releases... "Virginia Mayhew, Phantoms...a very creative tenor and soprano saxophonist." - W. Royal Stokes, JazzHouse.org
"Phantoms is indispensable!" - Beatrice S. Richardson, JazzReview.com
"Virginia Mayhew is in top-notch form... one of the finest saxophonists performing today...usual, different, and straight-out enjoyable... The accomplished tenor saxophonist returns with her admirable long-term quartet... going inside and outside with ease and imagination." - Gary Giddins, Village Voice
"Phantoms is a supreme artistic achievement." - John Doll, JazzReview.com
"Mayhew has established herself at the forefront of tenor/soprano saxophonists and composers, resting on the edge of greatness. This band produces some of the most memorable contemporary post bop in recent memory." - C. Michael Bailey, AllAboutJazz.com
"This is the work of a great musician." - Tim Price, Saxophone Journal
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"Virginia Mayhew has a tenor saxophone sound so big that it had me wondering if she was born in Texas. But there's a New York sophistication to that Texas Tenor demeanor, that allows for all sorts of subtleties... No Walls is a fabulous gem of an album." - Larry Nai, jazzreview.com
"A real breakthrough for her as a leader and saxophonist... Virginia Mayhew has developed a compelling edge of her own and her steady time sees her through the risks that make a jazz solo worth following." - Gary Giddins, Village Voice
"...my favorite disc of the young century... Get this one now, you can thank me later." - Neil Tesser, Jazziz
"A full tone, poised and soulful." - Mike Joyce, The Washington Post
"A musician's musician, Virginia Mayhew is capable of many roles...in terms of straight-ahead tenor blowing, this is about as good as it gets." - Tim Price, Saxophone Journal
"...unabashedly warm tone and an expressive gift for melodic invention... confident, even aggressively muscular, tenor saxophone playing, delivered with a powerful rhythmic drive and first-rate technical facility." - Don Heckman, The L.A.Times
"...might very well be one of the future greats of the tenor..." - Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene
"...showcases her impressive skills as a composer and her lustrous, rounded sound on tenor." - Andrew Gilbert, San Jose Mercury News
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"Four Stars...a fresh, intelligent, polished player...Virginia Mayhew, remember her name." - Down Beat Magazine
"A highly auspicious debut...imaginative mainstream playing on both alto and tenor saxophones...Her compositions are notable for their melodies. She is well worth hearing." - David Griffiths, South Wales Evening Post
"Mayhew shows mastery of all her horns, and of the idiom...an impressive debut." - David Dupo, Cadence Magazine
"The sophistication of the material, the high level of execution, lack of predictability in the solos, and the company Mayhew keeps...make this an exceptional first album." - Kirk Silsbee, JAZZIZ
"Mayhew has an appealingly fluid tone that drifted in legato lines over the ballads and rode snappily aboard the more upbeat, Latin-tinged numbers." - Jessica Nicholas, THE AGE (AUSTRALIA)
"Virginia Mayhew can do it all - swing, soar, bop, arrange, compose, improvise, and free-form." - Jack Burke, WAXWORKS
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(For more quotes, download the complete quote sheet from the Press Kit/Contact page.)