440

Nicholas Payton: Into The Blue

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Nicholas Payton: Into The Blue This is a strange mixture of an album. It includes passages of extraordinary and singular beauty and others of noodling anonymity. Practically all of the interest lies in trumpeter Nicholas Payton's performances; most of the blandness comes from his band. The two best tracks, "Drucilla" and "Chinatown," are so exquisitely gorgeous that they almost make up for the grey stuff. But they're outnumbered and it's a tough battle.



The approximate dividing line is keyboard player Kevin Hays. Along with bassist Vicente Archer and percussionist Daniel Sadownick, Hays was a member of the larger group featured on Payton's previous album, the retro-fusion Sonic Trance (Warners, 2003). When Hays is on acoustic piano here, he brings something compelling to the party; when he's on Fender Rhodes, as he mostly is, he sticks to funk-lite vamps and ostinatos, and drifts his way through an overabundance of solo time as though on autopilot. He does this so unvaryingly that one can only imagine Payton approved.



The slow, lonesome "Drucilla," the opening track, raises expectations heavenwards. It's in four distinct sub-sections. The first, Payton's theme statement and embellishment, is of almost unbearable poignancy; the second, where the bass and drums get busier behind Hays' muscular solo, is more assertive; the final two sections, accompanying Payton's extended solo, each raise the temperature further. Payton's improvisation, which begins in reflective, sorrowful mode, concludes with passion, fire and optimism. The mourner transforms into a celebrant, and your spirits rise alongside him.



"Chinatown" and "The Crimson Touch," the first a bittersweet ballad, the second a skittish, off-center, mid tempo swinger, are the other two acoustic tracks, and almost as memorable.



On the other tracks, Hays and the band only really get out of their comfort zone on "Nida." An Eastern-tinged, upbeat jam revisiting trumpeter Donald Byrd's and pianist Herbie Hancock's jazz-funk templates of the 1970s, it features Hays' most engaging electric solo, and an expansive, solid improvisation from Payton over a conventionally swinging middle section. Too often, on the remaining tracks, Payton's solo flights seem entirely independent of the musicians behind him.



If Payton was to focus on the qualities which make "Drucilla," "Chinatown" and "The Crimson Touch" the creative triumphs that they are, we would have an album of truly majestic stature. He's demonstrably got it in him. Maybe next time.

Track Listing: Drucilla; Let It Ride; Triptych; Chinatown; The Crimson Touch; The Backwards Step; Nida; Blue; Fleur De Lis; The Charlestown Hop.

Personnel: Nicholas Payton: trumpet; Kevin Hays: piano and Fender Rhodes; Vicente Archer: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums; Daniel Sadownick: percussion.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read One Minute Later CD/LP/Track Review One Minute Later
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 28, 2017
Read JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800° CD/LP/Track Review JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800°
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Ephimeral CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Fly or Die CD/LP/Track Review Fly or Die
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "The Long Good Friday OST" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Good Friday OST
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 1, 2016
Read "Of The Night" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Night
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 28, 2016
Read "Duet" CD/LP/Track Review Duet
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "San José Suite" CD/LP/Track Review San José Suite
by Nigel Campbell
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "The Eleventet - Please Call" CD/LP/Track Review The Eleventet - Please Call
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Once Upon a Time Right Now" CD/LP/Track Review Once Upon a Time Right Now
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: July 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!