The record has a wonderful sound that reflects the joy and intimacy of five musicians making music. It's different from his work in the repertory group SF Jazz Collective, which features music by the great jazz composers, or his wild, electronic record Sonic Trance.
'My earlier records were focused on continuing the tradition of jazz music, and Sonic Trance was trying to break free from that," Payton says. "This record settles on a middle point from those polarities." The album features both swinging and meditative jazz with Payton's poised trumpet work guiding the band with its Fender Rhodes (electric piano) touches and communal playing. "I'm a child of the "70s," Payton says. "So that sound of the lush Fender Rhodes in the music of Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire and the bands that my dad (New Orleans bassist Walter Payton) played in was the sound I heard." To bring the music even closer to what he heard as a youth, Payton included two of his father's earliest compositions, "Drucilla" and "Nida."
At Jazz Fest, Payton and the band that he used to record the album minus Houston pianist Robert Glasper will play some of its material. Ivory Coast vocalist Cecile Verny will join the group. Payton, however, will be the only horn.
'I had to do a gig once when my sax player couldn't make it, and I was like, "Wow!'" he says. "With two horns, you have to arrange it a certain way. Without having to compromise my lines for another horn player, I could play the notes however I want. It was liberating in a strange way. A lot of times after two horn solos, it can get boring anyway. I'd be doing like Miles did to Herbie Hancock and walking in on his solo to take it out. This way everybody can solo and we don't have to worry about it."
- Michael Wilson
- Nicholas Payton will play music off his new album Into the Blue (4:05 p.m. Sunday, April 27, WWOZ Jazz Tent).