Virginia is a Conn-Selmer Artist and plays a vintage mid-'50's Mark VI tenor saxophone with Ishimori reeds of Japan.
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Virginia was selected as a "Rising Star" by Down Beat Magazine in 2007.
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Virginia's "Mary Lou Williams Project" was recorded live by NPR at the Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival in May, 2010.

(Click the above graphic to hear the performance.)

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Listen to Virginia's music here.

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Saxophonist/composer/arranger/bandleader Virginia Mayhew has been an active participant in the New York jazz scene since 1987, and has led her own groups for over 25 years. She currently leads several quartets, a quintet, and a septet.

In the course of her career, Virginia has worked with renowned artists from Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, Cab Calloway, Frank Zappa, James Brown, Norman Simmons, Al Grey, Junior Mance, Joe Williams, Chico O'Farrill, Marlena Shaw, to Toshiko Akiyoshi, Kenny Barron, Leon Parker, Ingrid Jensen, Claudio Roditi, Nnenna Freelon, and many others.

Virginia has been a guest on Marian McPartland’s ‘Piano Jazzʼ, the featured artist on NPR’s ‘All Things Consideredʼ, and has appeared twice on ‘Jazz Set’ with Dee Dee Bridgewater. She was selected by Downbeat magazine as a 'Rising Star’ on soprano saxophone, and has been the subject of several feature articles in Downbeat, Jazztimes and Jazziz magazines.

Her latest recording, Mary Lou Williams – The Next 100 Years, was just selected by Downbeat as one of the Best New Releases of 2012 and by Rhapsody as one of the ten best new CDs of 2012.

Virginia has appeared in most of New York City's major jazz venues (including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Town Hall, Jazz Standard, Blue Note, Sweet Basil, Smalls), and has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia as well as in the Caribbean and Bermuda. Virginia has also been featured as a leader at many jazz festivals, both within the United States and abroad, and has traveled twice as a representative of the United States as a Jazz Ambassador (in the tradition of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington), once to the Newly Independent States and a second time to Southeast Asia.

Early in her career, Virginia worked with veteran trombonist Al Grey for several years. She is featured on his 1992 release, FAB (Capri), and contributed several arrangements to his 1995 CD, Centerpiece (Telarc). She also worked for several years with Brazilian trumpet and flugelhorn player/ composer/ arranger Claudio Roditi, and was recently part of ‘Dreamin’ the Duke', featuring Nnenna Freelon, Harolyn Blackwell, Mike Garson, and Terell Stafford. In addition, Virginia freelances with in the NYC area.


Virginia’s current projects include a tribute to pianist/composer/arranger Mary Lou Williams. Extensively researched, Mary Lou Williams - The Next 100 Years (Renma Recordings), features Virginia's arrangements of eight MLW compositions and two Mayhew originals. The group includes guitarist Ed Cherry, bassist Harvie S, and drummer Andy Watson, with special guest Wycliffe Gordon (trombonist Noah Bless plays most live quintet performances). This group has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in Europe and in numerous other locations. Virginia continues to develop the project by adding repertoire and arranging the material for larger ensembles. (Please go to www.renmarecordings for reviews, mp3s, and additional information.)

Virginia is also the saxophonist and musical director of the Duke Ellington Legacy, an 8-piece group founded by two of Duke Ellington's grandchildren, Edward Ellington II and Gaye Ellington. The Ellington Legacy is dedicated to keeping Ellington's music in the public ear through performances, recordings, and master classes. The group’s debut recording, Thank You Uncle Edward, (Renma Recordings), features special guests Joe Temperley and Wycliffe Gordon. The sophomore release, Single Petal of a Rose (Renma Recordings), features tenor great Houston Person.

Another current project is a quartet with two horns, bass and drums. Virginia utilized a similar instrumentation as for her very well-received 2001 'Phantoms' project with Ingrid Jensen. (Please see review/quote pages.) The current quartet features Noah Bless on trombone, Anthony Pinciotti on drums and Gary Wang on bass. She continues to work with her Mary Lou Williams project, taking it around the States and expanding the music for larger ensembles.

Virginia and Katherine Kramer, tap and modern dancer/choreographer have created a multi-disciplinary group that utilizes tap dancing in place of a drum-set.Katherine Kramer is an incredible master of her arts, and this project is really fun, refreshing and entertaining. (video clips on site).

In addition to her weekly performances around the City as a leader, she freelances and also performs weekly with Carl Thompson and Friends, and the Howard Williams Big Band.


Virginia has established her credentials in the field of jazz education, working around the world teaching master classes, serving as an adjudicator (including for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.), and as an experienced clinician and Artist-In-Residence, (including University of Massachusetts, University of Louisville, Bloomsburg University, College of William and Mary, Montclair State College, and others). She also works with school and jazz program ensembles.

She is a teacher of private students, and works as faculty at numerous jazz camps, (including Stanford Jazz Workshop, Monterey Jazz Festival summer camp, Litchfield Jazz Camp, and Jazz Camp West).

She has worked with Don Braden's innovative program in Newark, NJ, Jazz For Teens, as well as with Melissa Walker and Christian McBride's exceptional, Jazz House Kids. Virginia founded the very successful, Greenwich House Music School Jazz Workshop in New York City, and is currently the saxophone and jazz teacher for Music for Nikhil, which offers 2-4 person group lessons once a week to middle and high school students in West Orange, New Jersey.


In addition to her recordings with others, Virginia has six releases as a leader, all of which have all received rave reviews and lots of airplay. (Please see review/quote sections.) In addition to radio play, and with her own station on Pandora, Virginia’s recordings have been featured on HBO (television) and in movies. She has been commissioned several times to write and arrange her compositions for other groups, some of which have been recorded.
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2012 – "Single Petal of A Rose" - Duke Ellington Legacy - Renma Recordings
2011 – “Mary Lou Williams - The Next 100 Years” – Virginia Mayhew Quartet
2008 – “Thank You Uncle Edward” – Duke Ellington Legacy – Renma Recordings
2008 – “A Simple Thank You” – Virginia Mayhew Septet – Renma Recordings
2006 – “Sandan Shuffle” – Virginia Mayhew Group – Renma Recordings
2003 – “Phantoms” – Virginia Mayhew Group – Renma Recordings
2003 – “New York Still Life” – Lou Caputo Not-So-Big Band
2002 – “Live At The Garage” – Howard Williams Big Band
2000 – “No Walls” – Virginia Mayhew Group – Foxhaven Records
1999 – “Intersect” – Sharp Five - Consensus Records
1999 – “Jazz Nativity” – All-Star Jazz Christmas Extravaganza
1998 – “Deadlines and Commitments” – Ursel Schlicht/Tony Romano Group
1997 – “Leave It To Diva” – Diva Big Band featuring Sherrie Maricle – Diva Ltd.
1997 – “Nini Green” – Virginia Mayhew Group – Chiaroscuro Records
1995 – “Centerpiece” (arrangements only) – Al Grey Group – Telarc
1994 – “No Man's Band” – Diva Big Band featuring Sherrie Maricle
1992 – “Fab” - Al Grey Group (Capri)
1991 – “Lady Bird” – Sahib Shihab Big Band
1990 – “It's About Time” – Virginia Mayhew/Rebecca Franks – Philology Records

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Virginia has been featured in numerous books and magazines. Below are a few:

"Practice Like the Pros" by Sue Terry
"Madame Jazz" by Leslie Gourse
"Jazzwomen" by Wayne Enstice and Janice Stockhouse
"Gigs: Jazz and the Cabaret Laws In New York City" by Paul Chevigny
"Get Out There and Live", Down Beat Magazine, March 2009, feature article by Eric Fine.

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(For additional pr materials, please visit the Press Kit/Contact page.)

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