When it comes to Nicholas Payton, the latest jazz trumpet wunderkind, comparisons to Louis Armstrong seem almost too easy--but also too obvious to ignore. Like Armstrong, Payton hails from New Orleans, and his trumpeting, especially onstage, often attains the hot tone and rawboned swagger that remain Armstrong's trademarks. With his short, burly build Payton even looks a bit like Armstrong. But while Payton doesn't actively invite such comparisons--hell, who would?--he doesn't exactly wilt under them either: I've heard him summon up enough of both the power and the glory to stiffen the hairs on the back of my head. If that were all he could do, history would quickly relegate Payton to that upper back shelf reserved for musical archivists. But he has a lyrical side, handed down from Miles Davis and Chet Baker, that softly and unexpectedly dominates his recently released first album, From This Moment... (Verve). Thanks to this quality, the still-young trumpeter begins to emerge as a musician of greater depth and versatility than one might have expected, at least from the pure bravura of his work with Elvin Jones (his best-known credential); in fact, among the crop of under-30 jazz musicians, only Roy Hargrove plays the trumpet with more soul and simple poetry than Payton. This engagement marks his local debut as a leader. Wednesday, 9 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/James Minchin.