from The Seattle Times:

The young, jazz trumpet player Irvin Mayfield has loaned his tutelage to colleges, major orchestras and arts organizations. He founded the Institute of Jazz Culture at Dillard University in his hometown of New Orleans. For six years, he’s been his city’s official “Cultural Ambassador,” an appointment made by Louisiana’s governing bodies.

An accomplished composer, band leader and academician, Mayfield turned out to be a far better teacher than student. Getting into school was never a problem. Staying there was the challenge. Juilliard offered him a scholarship, which he turned down to attend the University of New Orleans, whose jazz- studies program was led by Ellis Marsalis. After about a year, Mayfield dropped out.

“I’d go to class and the instructors wouldn’t be there,” said Mayfield, 31, who performs next week in Seattle. “They’d be on the road, touring. I thought, ‘OK, that’s an interesting concept.’

“A degree is an asset, but it doesn’t mean anything by itself. It’s just another asset. So is being persuasive, having good personality, being smart.”

Mostly, Mayfield just played, forming an Afro-Cuban jazz group when he was 21. He listened and learned. Recording contracts came along. And eventually, people figured they could learn something from him. He has worked for years to make “the academy and the workplace meet each other,” he said. To that end, he formed the 16-member New Orleans Jazz Orchestra when he was 25.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Seattle Jazz