Nicholas Payton: The Deep Blue

 
If you are open to the moment and you're playing from the standpoint of the music flowing through you and going with what feels natural, then you don't have any idea. You are in the zone of 'I don't know.' That is the desired space to be in, if you are truly improvising, [where] the music is taking control of you and you're just a vessel for that creative energy to flow through.

-Nicholas Payton

 

Probably Payton's most notable appearance for many JamBase readers is on Trey Anastasio's self-titled 2002 solo debut. When our conversation shifts to Trey and music philosophies, it is downright scary how alike they think. Just as Trey has talked about being a conduit or vessel for music to simply pass through you - in other words, allowing the music to play you - Payton comes from the same school of thought.

"Well, if you are improvising, that is exactly what you're doing," Payton agrees. "If you are open to the moment and you're playing from the standpoint of the music flowing through you and going with what feels natural, then you don't have any idea. You are in the zone of 'I don't know.' That is the desired space to be in, if you are truly improvising, [where] the music is taking control of you and you're just a vessel for that creative energy to flow through."

Nicholas Payton
Payton also says he never has a setlist for his live gigs.

"I kind of try to do what feels right," he says. "What does the audience feel like? There are some nights where hardly any of the tracks on the album get played, or vice versa. I don't go into any given gig with what I'm going to play, or how I'm going to do it." This idea is backed up a few weeks after this conversation during his five-night run at NYC's The Jazz Standard, where Payton offered up highly varying shows.

Payton's very aware of his roots and the fact that many jazz records were recorded in just a few hours. So, when he says that he was at a distinct advantage when recording Into The Blue because he felt like had all the time in the world, it comes as a great laugh when all that time was in fact just "five days." Hey, Axl Rose could learn a studio lesson or two from Payton!

He mentions that most of the material he wanted to put on the album beforehand never even made it into the studio.

"I started writing two weeks before this session, and most of that music didn't even get used. The mood of the record seemed to suggest itself," says Payton. "I let it unfold the way it wanted to, as opposed to thinking, 'It's supposed to be this record.'"

For that reason, he explains, the record seemed to make itself. Several tracks on the album reflect this idea, most notably the longest track, "Triptych," the vocals on "Blue" and the end of the album, where "The Charleston Hop (The Blue Steps)" seems to wander off into eternity. Also of note is the fact that many tracks seem to be written with the drums in mind, often with Payton playing right along, as on the loose and funky "Nida."

There is a unique humbleness about Payton that puts one at ease. With his parting words, I realize what it is: he is honest, and Into The Blue is a true reflection of his background of all styles, themes and walks of life from New Orleans to jam band.

"I think the record fits very solidly into where I'm at now. In fact, that was really the point of just trying to create honest music that told as clear of a picture as possible of all of the many different things that I love in music," says Payton. "I think I'm increasingly getting closer and closer towards the many varied styles in music with a singular approach."

JamBase | New Orleans
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http://www.nicholaspayton.com/

[Published on: 9/2/08]

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Comments

pattyohallo starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 12:36PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

pattyohallo

VERY neat article...glad to see nick getting some recognition!!!

Flat5 starstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 09:45AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Flat5

Good article. Nice to see some jazz coverage on here.

spacedog starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/4/2008 08:12AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Saw him play for the first time with Kenny Lerner... just killed it.

His album Nick@Nite is super hot as well.

I too vote for more jazz coverage!!!!!

Ching starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/4/2008 12:07PM
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Do yourself a favor and get SONIC TRANCE...badddd ass album

Matthew Jaworski starstarstarstarstar Fri 9/5/2008 07:17AM
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Matthew Jaworski

Great job, Brian. Nice article. Nicholas is the man.

andino starstarstarstarstar Sun 9/7/2008 10:38PM
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Nicholas Payton is the man!! I remember when Dr. Lonnie Smith introduced him as the past, present, and future of jazz trumpeting.. My favorite show has to be Payton w/ Fred Wesley, Scofield, Soulive, all funkin it out at Tips during Jazzfest and absolutely crushing it!! Or maybe it was the "Time Machine" show at Snug Harbor w/ Steve Masakowski, David Torkanowsky, Jon Singleton, Nicholas Payton, and Adonis Rose.. Payton is one of those cats that you would just go and see at the drop of hat, you know, whatever it takes, timeless...

n-1 starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/18/2008 05:40PM
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this article is epic space phunk