×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Strange Fruit
     

Strange Fruit

by Irvin Mayfield
 
The fuzzy black-and-white photo on the cover of the booklet says it all: a white woman, head down, standing beside a noose. In a sense, Irvin Mayfield has come up with an ambitious sequel to Wynton Marsalis' massive oratorio about slavery, "Blood on the Fields," whisking forward to the 1920s, when the Deep South had long since exchanged slavery for an apartheid

Overview

The fuzzy black-and-white photo on the cover of the booklet says it all: a white woman, head down, standing beside a noose. In a sense, Irvin Mayfield has come up with an ambitious sequel to Wynton Marsalis' massive oratorio about slavery, "Blood on the Fields," whisking forward to the 1920s, when the Deep South had long since exchanged slavery for an apartheid culture. Unlike Marsalis' opus, the story line here is clear -- a young white woman, Mary Anne, falls in love with a black gardener, LeRoi, whom she's known since childhood, whereupon her white fiance Charles summons a lynch mob to take care of LeRoi. The work is divided into nine movements, mostly adhering to a pattern; the narrator inches the story onward at the beginning of each section, and Mayfield's score purportedly comments on the action for the remainder. From the pure, lazy Ellingtonian strains at the outset, Mayfield gradually applies a variation of the cross-pollination philosophy that he practices regularly in los Hombres Calientes, mixing in everything from gospel choir and straight-ahead big band charts to controlled displays of semi-riotous Dixieland jazz and one rather surprising outbreak of Afro-Cuban rhythms. However the disengagement of the music from the narrative has its weaknesses; you keep wanting to get on with the story, and it gets frustrating because the music doesn't advance the plot. The one time Mayfield does tie the story line directly into the music, the result is electrifying -- a call-and-response chant between a gospel singer and choir depicting the lynching ("The Lynch Mob (you better run boy run)"), as simple and repetitive as a chain-gang song and as compelling as any. And he finally underscores the last chapter of the narrative with music that develops into a slow, wild, contrapuntal bluesy wail to conclude the piece. Wendell Pierce was a great choice for the narration -- he has a rich, deep, charismatic Lou Rawls-like delivery that draws you in -- and along the way, Mayfield gets in some of his most impassioned trumpet solos on record. The whole thing was recorded live in the Lawless Chapel of New Orleans' Dillard University, a space that makes the choir sound dry but suits the 17-piece New Orleans Jazz Orchestra just fine. There are some impressive episodes within this piece, and at the very least, it holds together much better than Marsalis' sprawling opus.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/05/2005
Label:
Basin Street Records
UPC:
0652905040423
catalogNumber:
404
Rank:
186475

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Irvin Mayfield   Primary Artist,Trumpet,Conductor
Victor Atkins   Piano
Troy Davis   Drums
Calvin Johnson   Tenor Saxophone,Tenor (Vocal)
Leonard Brown   Trumpet
Brice Winston   Tenor Saxophone,Tenor (Vocal)
Darryl Reeves   Alto
Barney Floyd   Trumpet
Neal Caine   Bass
Aaron Fletcher   Alto
Steven Walker   Trombone
Samir Zarif   Baritone
Dillard University Choir   Track Performer
New Orleans Jazz Orchestra   Track Performer
Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews   Trombone
Jon Batiste   Piano

Technical Credits

Delfeayo Marsalis   Producer,Audio Production
Irvin Mayfield   Composer
Mark Samuels   Executive Producer
Daryl Dickerson   Engineer

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews