This jazz holiday album is a spinoff of “The Love Sessions,” a week of concerts put on annually by New Orleans trumpeter/nightclub owner Irvin Mayfield. Every night, different guest musicians perform to benefit a different nonprofit. Recipients of the proceeds have included the city’s public library, women’s shelters, programs for at-risk youth and more.
“They perform in Irvin’s Jazz Playhouse, his club inside the Royal Sonesta [Hotel] on Bourbon Street. I was hired to record the Sessions, and we thought, while we have everything set up, let’s record a Christmas album,” says recording engineer David Farrell. In a couple of afternoons, he captured the band live to Pro Tools in their stage setup, facing an empty house.
“Irvin was at the center of the stage,” Farrell recalls. “It’s a small stage—probably not more than 15 or 18 feet wide at the most, and we had a grand piano [played by John Chin], drums [Adonis Rose], bass player [Peter Harris], and about four horn players, more or less. All tightly compacted together.
“Irvin likes the sound of a ribbon microphone, so I used one Royer 121 on his trumpet, and another on [Vince Gardner’s] trombone,” Farrell continues. On Derek Douget’s tenor sax and Douget and Jason Marshall’s baritone saxes, he placed AKG 414 TLs. Horn mics and a pair of B&K 4011 piano mics went to Farrell’s Grace 801 mic pre’s, while 4006 room mics and all drum and bass mics went through ATI pre’s.
A couple of the tunes on the album feature vocals by Michael Watson, but most of these familiar tunes are beautifully played instrumentals—a gift from the Crescent City that will brighten the season for jazz lovers.