Born: May 14, 1959 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Saxophonist-composer-arranger Virginia Mayhew has been an active participant in the New York jazz scene since 1987. A native of San Francisco, Virginia came to New York to enroll in the New School's Jazz Performance program, and was awarded its Zoot Sims Memorial Scholarship.
In the course of her career, Virginia has worked with such renowned artists as Earl Fatha Hines, Cab Calloway, Frank Zappa, James Brown, Norman Simmons, Al Grey, Junior Mance, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Doc Cheatam, Joe Williams, Leon Parker, Clark Terry, Terry Gibbs, Kenny Barron, Chico O'Farrill, Dena DeRose, Ingrid Jensen, Claudio Roditi, and many others.
Virginia has appeared in most of the City's jazz venues, including the Blue Note, the Village Vanguard, the Village Gate, Sweet Basil, Sweet Rhythm, Birdland, Carnegie Hall, the Jazz Standard, Lincoln Center, and Town Hall, as well as performing throughout the United States, Europe, the Newly Independent States, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Australia, and Southeast Asia.
Virginia has performed at many jazz festivals as a leader, including the Monterey Jazz Festival, JVC Jazz Festival, Floating Jazz Festival, Verizon Jazz Festival, Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center, San Francisco Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, East Coast Jazz Festival, Panasonic Jazz Festival, Guinness Cork (Ireland) Jazz Festival, Verizon Music Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Melbourne Jazz Festival, Llangollen International Music Festival, Jazz At Sea, and other smaller festivals.
Virginia has traveled twice as a representative of the United States as a Jazz Ambassador. The first tour (2001 to the Newly Independent States, formerly the USSR Kazakhstan, Moldova, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine) featured the music of Louis Armb, and the second (2003 to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh) demonstrating the Latin and Brazilian influence on Jazz Music.
In addition, Virginia has established her credentials in the field of jazz education, both as a teacher of private students, as faculty at numerous jazz camps, (including Stanford Jazz Workshop, Monterey Jazz Festival summer camp, and Jazz Camp in Pescadero, CA), and as an experienced clinician and Artist-In-Residence, (including Univ. of Mass, Univ. of Louisville, Bloomington Univ. and others). She has traveled around the U.S.A. working as an adjudicator, teaching master classes, and working with school ensembles large and small. She teaches at the Greenwich Music House, a 100-year-old community music center, where she is the director and founder of the Greenwich House Jazz Workshop. Her own quartet performed at the 2002 IAJE Conference to rave reviews.
For several years, Virginia worked with veteran trombonist Al Grey. She is featured on his 1992 release, FAB (Capri), and contributed several arrangements to his 1995 CD, Centerpiece (Telarc). Her arrangements were also performed during the Battle Royale: Trombones and Alto Saxophones concert, which was part of Jazz At Lincoln Center.
Virginia is the Musical Director and saxophonist of the Duke Ellington Legacy, a 9-piece group led by Ellington's grandson, Edward Kennedy Ellington II. The Ellington Legacy is dedicated to keeping Ellington's music through performances in schools, retirement communities, prisons, public concerts, and clubs. The group features piano great, Norman Simmons.
Virginia also is a member of Brazilian trumpet and flugelhorn player/composer/arranger Claudio Roditi's group.
Virginia's debut recording as a leader, Nini Green, on the Chiaroscuro label, received rave reviews from all corners of the jazz world. On this 1997 release, she is joined by long-time collaborators Ingrid Jensen, Harvie S (formerly Swartz), Adam Cruz, and Leon Parker, as well as master pianist Kenny Barron. Nini Green was chosen Best New Release of 1998 by both Cadence and JAZZIZ magazines, and was awarded four stars by Downbeat.
Virginia's No Walls (2000) on the Renma Recordings label gathered rave reviews, and received a lot of airplay. The personnel is very similar to that of Nini Green. It features Kenny Barron, Ingrid Jensen and Harvie S, with Allison Miller on drums and Adam Cruz on percussion. No Walls was chosen Critics Pick 200l by JAZZIZ magazine, and one of the Top Ten of 2001 by Cadence Magazine.
Virginia's third CD as a leader, Phantoms (2003) on Renma Recordings features Ingrid Jensen, Harvie S, and Allison Miller. Members of Virginia's band over the course of 3 CDs and 7 years (10 for Ingrid), the group was a real, long-term ensemble. The 2003 release Phantoms was chosen Jazz Record of the Year by Sound and Vision, and CD of the Month by FACE MAGAZINE, Best 10 New Releases of the Year by Royal Stokes of www.jazzhouse.org/bulletin .
Virginia and the Phantoms group were featured on NPR's Jazzset (an hour long feature), Fresh Air, and on the web stream site, All Songs Considered. Phantoms is receiving a wonderful reception from all listeners/critics/musicians/radio hosts/etc. (See quote sheet). Virginia was also been featured this year in JazzTimes magazine and Jazz Improv magazine. Royal Stokes of the Jazz Journalists Association selected Phantoms as one of 2003's Top Ten Recordings.
Phantoms includes fresh arrangements of standards, odd meters, originals and lots of great rhythm and solos. Phantoms received lots of airplay and consistently rave reviews.
Virginia's new CD, Sandan Shuffle will be released in March of 2006. Sandan Shuffle features Virginia's new band: Kenny Wessel on guitar, Harvie S on bass, and Victor Jones on drums. Sandan Shuffle takes up where Phantoms left off. There are a number of odd-meter yet funky arrangements, originals and rearranged standards.
Although the front line has changed to guitar and saxophone, Virginia's masterful bassist of 10 years, Harvie S, hooks up beautifully with drummer extraordinaire Victor Jones. If anything, the music swings harder and is funkier than ever. For those of you who aren't familiar with guitarist Kenny Wessel, he is a wonderful and unique guitarist who has been in Ornette Coleman's band for many years.