Nicholas Payton (born September 26, 1973) is an American trumpet player and multi-instrumentalist. A Grammy Award winner, he is from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is also a prolific and provocative writer who comments on a multitude of subjects, including music, race, politics, and life in America.
Payton playing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, May 5, 2007
September 26, 1973|
New Orleans, Louisiana United States
|Genres||Jazz, jazz fusion|
|Instruments||Trumpet, electric piano|
|Labels||Verve, Warner Bros., Blue Note/EMI, Nonesuch|
|Associated acts||Young Tuxedo Brass Band, The Blue Note 7|
The son of bassist and sousaphonist Walter Payton, he took up the trumpet at the age of four and by age nine was sitting in with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band alongside his father. He began his professional career at ten years old as a member of James Andrews' All-Star Brass and was given his first steady gig by guitarist Danny Barker at The Famous Door on Bourbon Street. He enrolled at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and then at the University of New Orleans.
After touring with Marcus Roberts and Elvin Jones in the early '90s, Payton signed a contract with Verve Records; his first album, From This Moment, appeared in 1995. 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 & Nicholas Payton.
After seven albums on Verve, Payton signed with Warner Bros. Records, releasing Sonic Trance, his first album on the new label, in 2003. Besides his recordings under his own name, other significant collaborations include Trey Anastasio, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Daniel Lanois, Dr. John, Stanley Jordan, Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, Zigaboo Modeliste, Marcus Roberts, Jill Scott, Clark Terry, Allen Toussaint, Nancy Wilson, Dr. Michael White, and Joe Henderson.
In 2004, he became a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective. In 2008, he joined The Blue Note 7, a septet formed in honor of the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. In 2011, he formed a 21-piece big band ensemble called the Television Studio Orchestra. In 2011, he 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, he 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.
From 2011 to 2013, Payton was a Distinguished Artist and Visiting Lecturer at Tulane University and 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.
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.
- 1995 – From This Moment (Verve)
- 1995 – Gumbo Nouveau (Verve)
- 1997 – Fingerpainting: The Music of Herbie Hancock (Verve) with Christian McBride and Mark Whitfield
- 1997 – Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton (Verve)
- 1998 – Payton's Place (PolyGram)
- 1999 – Nick@Night (Verve)
- 2001 – Dear Louis (Verve)
- 2003 – Sonic Trance (Warner Bros.)
- 2008 – Into the Blue (Nonesuch)
- 2011 – Bitches (In+Out)
- 2013 – #BAM: Live at Bohemian Caverns (BMF)
- 2013 – Sketches of Spain (BMF)
- 2014 – Numbers (Paytone Records)
- 2015 – Letters (Paytone Records)
- 2016 – The Egyptian Second Line (Paytone Records)
- 2017 – Afro-Caribbean Mixtape (Paytone Records)
With Eric Alexander
- Summit Meeting (Milestone, 2001)
With Joanne Brackeen
- Pink Elephant Magic (Arkadia Jazz, 1998)
With Elvin Jones
With Jimmy Smith
With Allen Toussaint
- The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch, 2009)
- Skelly, Richard. Nicholas Payton at AllMusic. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "Nicholas Payton". Archived from the original on March 5, 2005.
- "On Why Jazz isn't Cool Anymore…". December 1, 2011. Archived from the original on December 1, 2011.
- "Someone Said Something Negative About Jazz As A Whole Again". December 3, 2011. Archived from the original on December 3, 2011.
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