Nicholas Payton Septet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Nicholas Payton Septet

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"I knew after I recorded Dear Louis," says trumpeter Nicholas Payton, referring to his 2001 big-band tribute to Louis Armstrong, "that I was closing a chapter on the kind of records I wanted to make." And how. Payton's new release, Sonic Trance (Warner Bros.), blows the lid off his staid image with a startling new combination of influences (Miles Davis, hip-hop, Herbie Hancock, Afropop) and instruments (samplers and synthesizers). A few missteps aside, he's layered these new elements into a voluptuous--nay, phat--sound whose throbbing sensuality suits tunes called "Velvet Handcuffs," "Toys in Babeland," "Tantric (Lewd Interlewd)," and "Cannabis Leaf Rag" (inspired by Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer"). Payton came up behind Wynton Marsalis and Terence Blanchard as a trumpeter in the modern mainstream tradition, and of the three he may be the best in terms of sheer technique and musical passion. Certainly he takes the prize for precocity: the seven discs under his belt expertly cover a century's worth of jazz evolution. The band he's bringing to Chicago includes most of the players heard on the album: Tim Warfield on saxophone, Vicente Archer on bass, Adonis Rose on drums, Daniel Sadownick on percussion, and Karriem Riggins on sampler. Friday and Saturday, October 3 and 4, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, October 5, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Adam Weiss.

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