Review: Payton continues great jazz tradition Downtown
Nicholas Payton insists he does not play jazz, and he is dead wrong.
The trumpeter says he plays “modern African American music,” trying to stay away from the typification he believers has hurt jazz and its musicians over the years.
But in his concert April 16 at the Cabaret Theater, Downtown, he showed he is doing what all the best musicians in the history of jazz have done: He tries to propel the music beyond where it is sitting now.
His Jazz Appreciation Month concert was hard to slide in those restrictive holes they call categories. So was his playing.
Payton played a great deal of trumpet, but he did it in a tone and style that was closer to that of a rhythm-and-blues saxophonist. He also spent the concert seated behind and electric keyboard and next to the grand piano.
His work at the keyboards lifted the trio with bassist Vincente Archer and drummer Marcus Gilmore into a quartet of sorts, with Payton playing two roles. While his keyboard and trumpet work was the most obvious sound, Archer and Gilmore both produced powerful work. Archer's bass lines were subtle gems. Once a listener became aware of them, it was hard to not concentrate on them.
The music was the biggest single element, though. The concert was dominated by originals such as Payton's “Let It Ride” and “The Backward Step,” both heavy in soulful rhythm and melody. But he led “Let It Ride” into his version of Benny Golson's classic “Stablemates” and also drifted the new “Triptych” into a fast version of “Days of Wine and Roses.”
Payton also did a beautiful offering of Keith Jarrett's “No Lonely Nights” in which he moved its ballad form into a blues.
In doing all of that, Payton was doing what the best jazz musicians have done throughout its history. When Louis Armstrong made the cornet an instrument tho played tunes other than brass band favorites, he created a new instrument. When Horace Silver, John Coltrane and Miles Davis shaped hard-bop into a jazz form, they took the music beyond its bebop days. While his work might not be as profound, Payton is melding the rhythms of hip-hop with jazz while not cheapening either.
And, yes, Nicholas, it really is still jazz.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.