[Dixielandjazz] CD Review - NY Times

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 9 11:06:21 PDT 2003

Here is a review of the latest Nicholas Payton CD. The 3rd paragraph
explains (perhaps) the reason that OKOM is not looked upon with great
artistic favor by some "musical talking heads". The 4th paragraph
indicates that Mr. Payton is changing his musical direction also.

It ain't easy being an artist these days. ;-)

Steve Barbone

September 9, 2003 - New York Times


Sonic Trance
Nicholas Payton

When Nicholas Payton first appeared on the scene in 1990, he was a
16-year-old who could play in a 1920's New Orleans style as if he'd
been there.

A few years later he was playing respectably modern post-bop; his band
moved like Miles Davis's 1960's quintet, and his own trumpet
playing sounded influenced by Louis Armstrong, Cootie Williams and other
great trumpeters from the past.

Over the last 10 years he has had a hard time getting away from his own
virtuosity; he's such a powerful trumpet player, yet his own music
seemed a little bit stuck in modes that had already been thoroughly
explored by his heroes.

In any case he earned a great deal of respect for doing exactly what he
did; you wouldn't expect him to change direction completely. But
with "Sonic Trance," that's what's going on. It's his first album on a
new label (Warner Brothers), and from the tone of his interviews, he
doesn't want to make traditional-sounding jazz albums anymore; this is
the first day of a changed career.

As before, Mr. Payton finds comfort in the innovations of his heroes;
parts of the album are dead ringers for Miles Davis's first electric
period of the early 1970's, except without guitars. Most of the tunes
are improvised, with a bare harmonic center; he runs his trumpet
through wah-wah pedals and electronic effects to make it blurry and
cloudy. And the second track, "Fela 1," is like a manifesto for his new
approach, with his long solo basically one trilling note for two
minutes, slowly rising in pitch as it bubbles and gargles, the rhythm
socking out funk behind it.

There's some tighter, more jazzlike, less far-out quintet playing
elsewhere on the disc; he also jousts with the past on "Cannabis Leaf
1," throwing dissonant notes into Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" to
sour it.

The album isn't totally convincing, and at times it's so open-ended that
you wonder if he isn't rebounding a little bit too hard from his
structured past. But as a first step it's not bad at all: thoughtful,
strange, shooting in lots of different directions, and better than a lot
of other
jazz players' excursions into the land of spacey funk.

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