As a leading voice in American popular music, the Grammy Award-winning Nicholas Payton is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, producer, arranger, essayist, & social activist who defies musical/artistic categories. All the while, he honors the tradition of what he terms “postmodern New Orleans music,” as well as the spirit of Black American Music, of which he states, “There are no fields, per se. There are lineages.” Already a prodigy before entering the 1st grade, he began playing trumpet at age 4 and started performing professionally at age 10. Before the age of 20, he was already in demand by everyone from Danny Barker & Clark Terry to Elvin Jones & Marcus Roberts. Mr. Payton released his first album, “From this Moment”, in 1995 on the famed Verve label. He received his first Grammy nomination in 1997 for the album “Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton”, and for the category of Best Instrumental Solo, which found him winning the award that year. Mr. Payton has released over 20 recordings as a leader, pushing musical boundaries & showcasing a variety of contemporary & traditional styles, while displaying his ambidextrous ability to play both the trumpet and keyboard at the same time when he’s inspired to do so. He has collaborated with numerous mentors & contemporaries alike, ranging from Common & Cassandra Wilson to Trey Anastasio, MonoNeon, & Jill Scott, to Dr. John, Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste of The Meters, Allen Toussaint, & Abbey Lincoln to name a few. His most recent albums are “Quarantined with Nick” and “Maestro Rhythm King”, both released in 2020.
I had the chance to catch the Nicholas Payton Trio virtually through the University of Wisconsin Union Theater. The music was energizing my living room. I could feel the real life oozing out of the instruments. There is no way that what I was witnessing (once aGain), wasn’t helping to lift, even, raise the vibration of the collective conscious of one audience. It’s that moment brought to us, virtually or otherwise, we walk in the same shoes and we repair the souls errr soles together.