Acclaimed saxophonist to take stage with Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra

Weekend concerts and class set for Sanford, Apex venues
Feb. 12, 2013 @ 08:43 PM

Two female jazz artists are set to be showcased this weekend during the Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra concert series.

Renowned jazz saxophonist Virginia Mayhew is scheduled to perform with the local orchestra in a two-day series of concerts this weekend, with several numbers composed by American jazz icon Mary Lou Williams.  

The first in the series is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday at Temple Theatre, located at 120 Carthage St., and the second at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Halle Cultural Arts Center, located at 237 N. Salem St., Apex. 

"Mayhew has been in the profession for a long time," orchestra director Gregg Gelb said. "She has played with some of the finest jazz musicians and she has been able to forge a career as a saxophonist. And that's rare."

There are not many female saxophonists, Gelb said, making Mayhew an excellent choice for the orchestra's celebrating women in jazz event.

Mayhew released an album dedicated to Williams, Gelb said, and the Heart of Carolina orchestra is set to play several songs Williams composed along with original Mayhew numbers.

"I am really looking forward to it," Mayhew said Tuesday. "I am always really excited about playing (Williams's) music. I have never played her big band songs, and that is what we are going to play this weekend."

It was in 2010 that Mayhew's interest in Williams began to expand, which inspired her to release her album titled "Mary Lou Williams: The Next 100 Years."

"I started doing research on her music," Mayhew said. "I had heard of her my whole career, but I never realized how great she truly was and how long she was around and how great of a musician she was ... .  I fell in love with her music."

After Mayhew released her album, she said other Williams fans "came out of the woodwork."

"I am glad Williams is getting more attention," she said. "And I am happy I can help in that."

Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra Board Member Judith Pine Bobe helped bring Mayhew to Sanford and said she was looking forward to Mayhew's performance.

"She had a lot of credentials," Bobe said. "She is a lovely person and very important person on the jazz scene."

Mayhew will also host a free, one-hour master class at 5 p.m. Saturday at Halle Cultural Arts Center. The class is open to all ages and levels. The thrill in teaching a class, Mayhew said, is never knowing the type of students she will encounter.

"You never know what is going to happen," she said. "I love the questions people have, and I enjoy meeting all the people who decide to come."

More information about the two shows and the class is available at


What: The Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra presents jazz saxophonist Virginia Mayhew for a two-day series of concerts and classes

When: 8 p.m. Friday at Temple Theatre, 120 Carthage St., Sanford, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex.

Admission: $15 for adults and $10 for students or children for the Temple Theatre show. $12 for Halle Cultural Arts Center show.

More information: