Nicholas Payton XXX Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Thu., June 20, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., June 21, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., June 22, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., June 23, 4, 8 & 10 p.m. 2013

The flap that trumpeter Nicholas Payton provoked a couple of years ago—when he rejected the term “jazz” in favor of “Black American Music,” decrying the familiar word’s archaic associations and racist baggage—has pretty much died down. In 2011 he released Bitches, an R&B-driven collection with more drum programming and keyboard playing than horn blowing, but his fantastic new trio record, #BAM Live at Bohemian Caverns (BMF), sounds a lot like what most folks would call “jazz”; though Payton may not use the word, his magnificent playing has earned him the right to call his music whatever he wants. Joined by veteran drummer Lenny White and bassist Vicente Archer, Payton doubles on trumpet and Fender Rhodes—often playing both at once—to lead a session where the grooves are as deep as the improvising. On a concise reading of Monk’s “Pannonica,” where Payton duets with Archer, his striated trumpet tone gives his lyrical tenderness an appealingly brittle bite. Payton’s “The African Tinge” is one of several pieces that’s all about stretching out and expansion: his distorted electric piano creates a dark, smoldering vibe punctuated by psychedelic exploration, for a total effect that’s redolent of mid-70s Miles Davis. As much as I dig the album, this stuff is meant to be experienced live, where White’s funky attack and Payton’s huge, plush sound (on either instrument) can surround you. —Peter Margasak

Price: $25-$50

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