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New disc from Nicholas Payton travels the world


Nicholas Payton, "Afro-Caribbean Mixtape" (Paytone, two discs)

"I have never felt oppressed and I'm nobody's slave. I am not a victim. I have always known I am black and been proud of it."

So declares the great New Orleans trumpet player Nicholas Payton who says that his musical ancestors go wayyy back in New Orleans. Would you believe to "Henry Payton's Accordion Band" assembled in 1899 which, according to Payton, once included the New Orleans legend Buddy Bolden?

So here's a double-disc set of non-stop jazz eclecticism that travels all over the map with almost every new cut. "I titled this album 'Afro-American Mixtape' as a way of acknowledging the strong will of African peoples. To explore how these songs and rhythms come from Africa, got funnelled through the Caribbean in places like Haiti, Cuba and Puerto Rico and Traveled to the northern part of the Caribbean-New Orleans" which is where it happens that Payton's plump juicy tone rings out over strings and screams over rock backbeats and electric piano played by Kevin Hays (a mainstay, for a while, in Sonny Rollins' band) and DJ Lady Fingazz on turntables.

You'll also hear interpolated voices from tapes of Max Roach, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey. The wildly eclectic mix, frankly, isn't as exciting as the great trumpet player's textures when he's left to his own virtuoso devices. It's almost impossible not to respect Payton's intentions but I think, sometimes, that frankly they overwhelm his actual trumpet talents, which deserved more showcasing (rather than, say, his bass and synthesizer playing.) A bit too much has been stuffed into this, I think. But Payton, among other things, glories in an abundance of heritage.

3 stars (out of four)


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