Artist: Tatiana Ladymay Mayfield
Title: A Portrait of Ladymay
Label: Sparks Records
Date of Release: July 2012
|02||The End Of A Love Affair|
|04||Olha Pro Céu (Look To The Sky)|
|05||Where Have You Been?|
|06||A Lady Never Cries|
|09||It’s Over Now|
|13||Bonus: Love (Live)|
01. For You (Tatiana Mayfield)
02. The End Of A Love Affair (Edward C. Redding)
03. Love (Tatiana Mayfield)
04. Olha Pro Céu (Look To The Sky)(A. C. Jobim)
05. Where Have You Been? (Harvey Siders)
06. A Lady Never Cries (Harvey Siders)
07. Sequins (Tatiana Mayfield)
08. Distance (Joel Cross/Tatiana Mayfield)
09. It’s Over Now (Tatiana Mayfield/Erskine Hawkins III)
10. Real (Tatiana Mayfield)
11. Zone (Tatiana Mayfield/Ben Bohorquez)
12. Judgment Day (Tatiana Mayfield/Erskine Hawkins III)
13. Love (Live) (12/1/09)
Arranged by Tatiana Mayfield (01,03,07,09,10) Ben Bohorquez (01,03,11), Erskine Hawkins III (02), John Guari (04), Caleb McCampbell (05), Joel Cross (05,08), Ryan Hagler (05), Brian Harmon (05), Daniel Rojas (06)
String Arrangement by John Guari (01)
Additional String Programming by Erskine Hawkins III (01), Daniel Rojas (06)
Lyrics by Tatiana Mayfield (09,12)
Music by Erskine Hawkins III (09,12)
All Instruments produced and arranged by Erskine Hawkins III (12)
Piano: Erskine Hawkins III (01,02,03,07,08) , Caleb McCampbell (05,06), Sean Giddings (13)
Piano & Rhodes: Daymond Callahan (10)
Rhodes: Caleb McCampbell (11)
Guitar: Joel Cross (01,03,04,05,08,09), Scott Kruser (13)
Bass: Ryan Hagler (01,03,05,06,09,11,13), Jacob Smith (04,07), Brian Ward (08), A.J. Brown (10)
Drums: Brendan O’Neill (01,03,07,13), Brian Harmon (05,06,09,11), Walter “Gene” Butler (10)
Percussion: Leon “Rick” Flowers (01,11), Matt Hurley (04)
Trumpet: Pete Clagett (01,03,07,11,13)
Tenor Sax: Ben Bohorquez (01,03,11,13), Dustin Mollick (07)
Trombone: Kevin Hicks (01,03,13), Nick Wlodarzyk (07), Tatiana Mayfield (11)
Violin/Viola: Veronika “Vassi” Vassileva (01,06)
Viola: Annika Donnen (01,06)
Cello: Shawna Hamilton (01,06)
Vocals/Background Vocals: Joel Cross (08), Melissa McMillan (10, 12)
Flute: Shelley Carrol (11)
EWI: Quamon Fowle (11)
Executive Producer: Tatiana “LadyMay” Mayfield
Recorded & Mixed by Sean P. Jones at “Off The Square Studios” in Denton, TX
Mastered by Nolan Brett at Crystal Clear Studios in Dallas, TX
Photography: TaKiyah Wallace of Some Sweet Photography
Graphic design: Carol Nguyen
Album Art: Junko Otsu
Liner Notes: Harvey Siders
Hairstylist: Michelle Davis of Jela’s Epiphany Salon
Makeup: Riska “LadyLash” Crowder of Jela’s Epiphany Salon
"A Portrait Of LadyMay" is a dynamic and creative work that encompasses Tatiana's writing ability and versatility. Featuring her standard straight-ahead jazz skills and soulful melodies, she combines everything she's great at to make a sound all her own.
Every so often, a new vocal phenom emerges on the jazz scene, fully packaged – only ingredient missing being the experience that time alone will supply. Such is the status of Tatiana Mayfield, a ready-to-explode native of Fort Worth, Texas. Bless her syncopated soul, she hears all changes; her intonation is flawless; her sense of time, metronomic; and one can discern the lyrics (when she’s not scatting.) Even when the tempo is supersonic. As for writing lyrics, there’s no end to the inventiveness. Her melisma? As natural as her breathing.
Tatiana – or as she’s rapidly becoming known by the iconic gardenia in her hair as “LadyMay”, was thoroughly trained in all aspects of vocalizing –learned her major well at the University of North Texas College of Music, Denton, some 40 miles from home. She plays piano, trombone and is equally skilled at arranging for big bands and small combos. But her main focus is on singing/scatting, a duality she perfected with the legendary Jazz Singers Ensemble and the Two O’Clock Band (one of approximately half a million lab bands there) before achieving her degree in Jazz Studies.
Now that LadyMay is through matriculating, she’s busy articulating her goals in the only real world she cares to identify with: Jazz…singing, scatting, writing it, playing it; sweating over original material; touring diverse venues, including the festival scene; and above all recording and learning about complicated new technologies (This is her second CD.) Tatiana already has a leg up (as well as her larynx) thanks to a series of moves that can only be described as prophetic: choosing fellow student Erskine Hawkins lll for her accompanist around the Dallas-Fort Worth lounge circuit, soaking up his arranging savvy; co-arranging savvy; co-arranging their first album; and absorbing even more from her mentor, Rosana Eckert, who teaches at UNT’s Vocal Jazz Department. Ms. Eckert, in 2000 was one of only 16 U.S. musicians to be selected to join the Thelonious Monk for Aspen Jazz Colony. And wouldn’t you know it? Couldn’t you have predicted one decade later, Tatiana would be the selection of officials from the Monk Institute to represent the as one of the twelve musicians chosen at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.? Oh, well, Monk see, Monk do.
Categorizing LadyMay is not easy; she’s as original as she is rangy. But every singer has roots, and hers go back to the glory days of the Swing era as being most influential. Interestingly, they all belong to what’s known as the First-Name Club: Billie, of course, thanks to the gardenia link (as well as adapting her last name Holiday, to Lady Day, plus having a convenient last name herself: Mayfield which begat LadyMay.) We also agreed on others; Ella, Sarah, Carmen, Dinah, Anita, and Nancy. No disrespect in referring to them on a first name basis. It’s actually the ultimate in adoration. (It won’t be long before fans will be saying “Tatiana” much more often than “Mayfield.” Her game is music…not baseball. Would you like to gain Tatiana’s adoration? Pronounce her first name correctly: tah-SHE-ON--nuh. (No charge for the phonetics. Nor is there any fee for suggesting highlights from this album.)
Tatiana’s lyric-writing chops are revealed with the opener, For You. The same can be said for her collaborative spirit, working with three other arrangers, which accounts for the stacked studio sound put together for this bossa. Having said that, it gives me perverse pleasure to report the chart ends with a simple brass triad. Tenorist Ben Bohorquez displays his silken tone in a very relaxed solo. No relaxing for Tatiana on The End of a Love Affair. She has to emote a cappella, the hardest way of all (like trying to cry without a hanky) for most of the first eight bars. She pulls it off without resorting to melodrama, thanks in part to Erskine Hawkins’ lone accompaniment. What great chemistry!
Can any singer ignore Antonio Jobim? Ah, but how many will tackle him in his native Portuguese? I’m no language geek, but I commend the Lady’s courage and determination to be as authentic as possible while creating a gorgeous track for Look to the Sky (Olha Pro Ceu).
There are two takes on Love. Simply put, Love is a romp. Tatiana, who loves Love, also loves romps, so she recorded it twice (still with me?) A later version – the closing track on this album – turns out to have been recorded live at her senior recital for UNT. Sparked by a better intro, the live reading is more vibrant. Backed by virtually the same septet, Tatiana gives her all both times, twisting her scat so vigorously, I wish I could have been a fly on her mike so I could watch her contorted face as she stretches her solos by microtones. Instrumentally, solos by tenorist Bohorquez and “bone” specialist Kevin Hicks swing elegantly. Good to hear Hicks rewarded with extra stretch-out room for the closing Love. The audience is rewarded by hearing Tatiana scat to her favorite closing cadence: a 9th chord with a slight trill.
I’ve had my head in the clouds since Tatiana told me she was recording two of my songs: Where Have You Been, taken at a perfect tempo (every song has an ideal tempo); and A Lady Never Cries (every song has an ideal interpreter. Who’d bring the right level of soul better than LadyMay?) Tatiana’s arrangement of Sequins first saw the light of day as an undergraduate “project” for UNT. I don’t know the details, but it’s obvious from the dissonant, free jazz being juxtaposed with an innocent toddler intoning nursery rhymes (Tatiana scatting falsetto), totally unaware of impending doom. It would make an effective film score. Also, check out Pete Clagett’s excellent trumpeting.
When you listen to Distance, pay close attention to the words; it contains a rapid-fire conversation by a young couple expressing their mutual love and mutual frustration at being separated too often and by too much distance. Much of their dialog overlaps. It is so cleverly edited that it results in “conversational counterpoint.” It is a true collaboration between Tatiana and guitarist Joel Cross in writing words and music; Cross did the arrangement that gradually draws you into the couple’s problems.
Segue to another couple with a vastly different headache: apparently “she’s in an ‘80’s frame of mind while he’s still in his twenties self-discovery mode.” Bad combination, according to Tatiana’s cultural analysis, as LadyMay laments in the song It’s Over Now. Guitarist Cross keeps the flavor and the fingering countrified. Now fasten your seat belts as we shift from pastoral to passionate…
Tatiana’s no-holds-barred arrangement and performance of Real bring us to a graphic track that leaves little to the imagination. So real, it borders on the surreal. Tatiana deserves high praise for blending Motown-inspired lines with melismatic scat that creates a language keeping her tethered to her vocal jazz roots. Shower her with compliments for having the courage to sprinkle her Midwest “breakout” with bumps and grinds from any Las Vegas casino to the Apollo Theater. Rhythmically masterful; especially Gene Butler’s drumming, that pulverizes nearly every third beat; Daymond Callahan’s Fender Rhodes, with its carnal suggestiveness; and a “large” wordless chorale where everyone is named Melissa McMillan.
Betcha the only Zone that arranger Bohorquez had in mind for his chart of the same name was Torrid. This is one infectious cooker. Co-written by Ben and his Boss Lady, it begins with the heat of a way-up samba as Tatiana and flutist Shelley Carroll wail in unison. Since there are no lyrics here, the focus is on the scatting, linking Tatiana with other instrumental soloists. And the way LadyMay scats here turns Zone into the swingingest track in the…well, zone: sparring with Carroll, after being glued together in perfect unison. It’s the kind of high-powered workout that Tatiana should transcribe and make available to every conservatory or college; even high schools with music departments. The solo work is spectacular; more importantly, Carroll on flute and Fowler on the EWI are downright instructive. While Zone begins as a way-up Samba, it occasionally “threatens” to revert to straight-ahead jazz by the time Brian Harmon’s irresistible drumming gooses the ensemble. Than wait for a brief P.S. added by tenorist Bohorquez. Use your meter (starting at 3:02) and try to keep time for five seconds. Just don’t try dancing to it!)
LadyMay places her mike on a pulpit for this swinging sermon, with its many references to Revelation and the Rapture. This begins with a very secular eight-bar drum cliché favored by most rock and rhythm n’ blues drummers for vamps that can go on indefinitely until a singer is ready to start. In this case, the drums come down heavily on each third beat all the way to the end when Tatiana and the vocal army of Melissa McMillan spread their art from the heart. There can be no doubt about the deep spirituality of Ms. Mayfield or Hawkins, the co-writer of Judgment Day. Stay tuned at the end for twelve seconds or you’ll miss a brief reprise. If you fail to listen to that haunting motif, you could be struck by lightning.
Personal rave to Tatiana: What a Lady; what a talent; what a
future lies ahead for all three. Thanks for asking me to play a small
part in your project.
Harvey Siders…former writer for Down Beat & Jazz Times
Official Website: http://www.tatianamayfield.com
Booking Website: http://www.sparksentertainment.biz