Nicholas Payton's "Sonic Trance"
New York City
October, 17, 2003
Nicholas Payton put the Big Apple in a "Sonic Trance" one cool October evening. Iridium is a delightful dining place, which also happens to host the best acts in jazz. When you're in New York, head over to 1650 Broadway at 51st Street to get the low-down in mid-town.
Trumpeter Nicholas Payton brought his latest quintet with him. He also brought some of the hippest thoughts in jazz today. His thoughts have been translated into an exciting journey of sound called Sonic Trance, his new CD on the Warner Brothers label.
"Conceptually, as opposed to doing takes of tunes, we were trying to create moods," Nicholas told me over the phone from his home in New Orleans earlier in the week. "'Sonic Trance' is a cinematic approach to music. I liken the tunes to characters in a movie...how you follow a theme... and several tunes make appearances in different places on the album. We're trying to draw a sonic palate, as opposed to just playing tunes."
Performed 'live', this little adventure implores your senses to stretch and bend. (As Bruce Lee would say "You must take the shape of water.") Nicholas leads his band through a series of little tid bits that - together - equal more than the sum of the parts.
The band is: Tim Warfield (sax), Adonis Rose (drums), Vicente Archer (bass), Scott Kinsey (piano & keyboard) and Danny Sadownick (perucssion). Nicholas, of course, is the trumpet man.
Together these guys work and squeeze notes and passion out of their instruments. At one point the percussionist makes music with the squelch of a walkie talkie (or some type of similar device) held up to the microphone and tortured. Well maybe that's a bit harsh. But it did scream.
Nicholas makes his trumpet growl. I swear. Saxman Warfield sounds like Coltrane at times. And the rhythm section of keyboardist Kinsey and traps player Rose do all they can to harness and steer the ship. Its a great show.
"I wanted to take listeners on a journey and the album would be conceived as a whole, as opposed to a sequence of songs...so that the album really listens through from beginning to end...like a movie," Nicholas explains. They performed the concept of the CD in concert at Iridium with smiles. They understood each other. They had a plan.
Nicholas continues, "For me, its something really true for what I wanted to do for a long time. This album is a reflection of me, of where I'm at right now. I think for the past couple of years, I've been heading in this direction. All the elements...all the musicians, the timing and everything was right for it to happen."
Sonic Trance is considered "revolutionary". Some critics have compared it to Miles' Bitches Brew. Big shoes to fill.
"Now we're developing - conceptually - as a group sound," Nicholas confides. "The recording was an effort in and of itself. For us as a band now, what we're trying to develop as a unit is something quite different. Even though the basis for our repetoire is from the recording, we'are trying to extend what we did and move beyond. The recording was a moment in time. For us the challenge is to see how far we can actually take this."
Pick up a copy of Sonic Trance, pop it in the CD player and lay back. Let it roll, uninterupted. You'll dig it.
Check out www.nicholaspayton.com for more secrets.