Friday, March 01, 2013

Nicholas Payton - BMF - NYC Jazz Record

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has made waves lately
more on the heels of his social media prowess than
with his trumpet. His BAM (Black American Music)
movement has prompted more late-night, off-the-record
conversations than one could have ever
imagined. As the leader of a bold idea, naturally, his
recorded output has been held to higher scrutiny. His
last release, Bitches, was a foray into cathartic R&B but
for this album, his first for his BMF record label, he
returns to an instrumental sound with a stripped-down
band of bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Lenny
White. Curiously, what rises to the surface on this
record is Payton’s way with a keyboard. Throughout
the live date, the smooth but talkative leader spends as
much time seated at the Rhodes as blasting his horn.

The album kicks off with Payton in duet with
himself, his plaintive trumpet cry matched by sparse
chords. He alternates between pinched trumpet and a
plucky Rhodes solo before briefly riding Wayne
Shorter’s quartal “Witch Hunt” riff on his trumpet
with punchy electricity. On “Catlett Outta the Bag”, a
White original, Payton gets downright funky on the
Rhodes, digging into a distorted stride as White beats
the hell out of his kit. It’s an impressive display that
seems to take the audience a bit by surprise. The
applause is spacious and hesitant. They get a confident
solo from Archer to sort things out. If that surprised
them, then who knows what “The African Tinge” did.
The 14-minute jam is a non-stop barrage of screaming
Rhodes, somersaulting backbeats and rocketing
trumpet pyrotechnics. “Frankie and Johnny” closes the
set with a smooth swing. Archer takes a rumbling solo
over White’s effortless brushes as the band takes their
time with the mellow blues.

The set runs a high-energy 80 minutes over just 7
tracks with clinking silverware and Payton’s quiet
storm patter tying it all together, an engaging live date
that reminds us why Payton’s opinions are given the
weight they are in the first place.

Nicholas Payton @ NYC Jazz Record

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