Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The Week's Can't-Miss Performance 

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton gives Louis Armstrong a vivacious overhaul

Wednesday, Feb 6 2002
Born and raised amongst brass bands on the legendary streets of the French Quarter, 28-year-old Nicholas Payton blows his horn with the vibrant energy of the original New Orleans jazz artists. Dearly departed old-timer Doc Cheatham -- who traded hot licks with the young trumpeter on their 1994 Grammy-winning collaboration -- once said, "I haven't heard anybody like him since Louis [Armstrong]."

While Payton embodies the bright, soaring tone and charismatic phrasing of the golden age of jazz, he's no revivalist. Even while touring as a teenager with former John Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones, Payton was shaping a signature sound that integrated both traditional and modern jazz concepts into a big-picture style. His latest Verve recording, Dear Louis, shows off this synthesis to great effect, taking a dozen of Satchmo's well-worn titles and giving them a harmonic overhaul that belies the project's mainstream pitch. Buoyant with Payton's characteristic exuberance and a colorful arrangement style clearly indebted to Duke Ellington, the album bubbles over with surprising depth and vivacity.

Despite Payton's commercial profile, he has earned the respect of radical players like the late Lester Bowie, who once applauded the trumpeter's honesty, verve, and authentic grasp of history. In an era of watered-down mainstream jazz, Payton is the real deal.

About The Author

Sam Prestianni


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"