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Jazz Remembered


Nicholas Payton


Nicholas Payton


Dave Keen in Canada suggests we feature Nicholas Payton. Dave says: 'There were two great trumpeters, Bill Hardman and Wilbur Harden from that period who got lost somehow maybe in Freddie’s shadow and that was a huge shadow. Nicholas Payton is a great trumpeter outa New Orleans outa the Freddie mould. Great player.'

Nicholas Payton was born in New Orleans on September 26, 1973, the son of Walter Payton, a bass and sousaphone player. Nicholas started playing trumpet when he was four and was sitting in with his father in the Tuxedo Brass Band by the time he was nine years old. At ten, he started playing professionally with James Andrews' All-Star Brass and was given his first steady gig by guitarist Danny Barker at The Famous Door on Bourbon Street.

Listen to Nicholas Payton playing the theme from the movie Chinatown.




Nicholas toured with Marcus Roberts and Elvin Jones in the early 1990s, before signing a recording contract with Verve; his first album, From This Moment, appeared in 1994. In 1996 he performed on the soundtrack of the movie Kansas City, and in 1997 received a Grammy Award (Best Instrumental Solo) for his playing on the album Doc Cheatham and Nicholas Payton.


Check out this video of Nicholas Payton playing Little Liza Jane at the 1997 Newport Jazz Festival.




Besides his recordings under his own name he has also collaborated with Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Dr. John, Stanley Jordan, Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, Jill Scott, Clark Terry, Allen Toussaint, Nancy Wilson and Joe Henderson.

Click here for a video of Nicholas playing Milt Jackson's Bags Groove with the Ray Brown Trio in 2001..

He recorded seven albums on Verve and then moved to Warner Bros. Records for his next album, Sonic Trance, in 2003.

Click here to listen to Praalude from the Sonic Trance album.

In 2004, Nicholas Payton became a founding member of the SF Jazz Collective, and in 2008, Payton joined the Blue Note 7, a septet formed in honour of the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. In 2011, he formed a 21-piece big band ensemble called the Television Nicholas Payton Dear Louis albumStudio Orchestra, and also recorded and released Bitches, a love narrative on which he played every instrument, sang, and wrote all of the music.

In 2012 the Czech National Symphony Orchestra commissioned and debuted his first full orchestral work, The Black American Symphony, and in 2013, Payton formed his own record label, BMF Records, and the same year released two albums, #BAM Live at Bohemian Caverns, where he plays both trumpet and Fender Rhodes, often at once, and Sketches of Spain, which he recorded with the Basel Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland.

Nicholas 'belongs to a growing group of race scholars and activists committed to social justice. Members of this movement suggest that racism is not simply a response to color, but that it additionally describes subtle legal behaviors by which the dominant culture continues to marginalize people in order to sustain a poor, minority class. In the case of American society, evidence of this can be framed as institutionalized racism and white privilege, a topic that Payton has sometimes written about in several essays to his website. Payton's writings are provocative for other reasons, too. One of his most notable pieces to date, On Why Jazz isn't Cool Anymore, describes the effects of cultural colonization on music. The article quickly earned his website 150,000-page views and sparked international press attention and debate.' (Wikipedia).

Click here for a video of Willard Jenkinsan interviewing Nicholas Payton on 'Black American Concepts and Controversy'.


Listen to Freesia from Bitches in which Nicholas Payton sings and which features bassist Esperanza Spalding.




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