• Nicholas Payton Quintet: Live At The Village Vanguard

    March 10, 2010. Posted by WBGO.

    Nicholas Payton Quintet. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    Nicholas Payton found his footing in jazz through its hard-swinging main stem, another in a long line of trumpeters from New Orleans to splash onto the scene with superior dexterity. But after he'd proved his hard-bop mettle, he took a fork in the road, wending his way through a form of electronic experimentalism and driving with a hip-hop approach. Now that he's in his mid-30s, he seems happy with all of it, and then some.

    In 2008, Payton released a record, Into the Blue, which cast his lot between sonic worlds: swinging yet spacey, acoustic and electric in equal part. He led a band with that aesthetic in mind at the Village Vanguard: NPR Music and WBGO hosted a live radio broadcast, online webcast and archival recording of the Nicholas Payton quintet on their Wednesday night early set.

    Remarkably balanced and mixed, Into the Blue finds Payton in a sweet spot "true to who I am now," he says in a recent press release. His trumpet sound is clean and tonally pure, even through mutes and effects; he's written ballads and burners alike to show off his many sides. At the Vanguard, he chose more of the no-doubt-about-it flavor of jazz; Payton called a mix of originals and standards, played mostly straight but with edgy blowing, filled with individual idiosyncrasy. With him on Into The Blue, and on stage, were Vicente Archer on bass, Kevin Hays on grand piano and Fender Rhodes (replaced live with Taylor Eigsti, playing acoustic only), Marcus Gilmore on drums and Daniel Sadownick on hand percussion.

    Payton was born into a musical family in New Orleans, and even picked two of his father's tunes for Into the Blue. He studied with Ellis Marsalis in New Orleans; he impressed Wynton Marsalis in New York. His early recorded output reflected this, whether moving along the straight-ahead mainstream or working with elder statesmen such as Doc Cheatham, Hank Jones and Ray Brown. In 2003, he wrong-footed some with Sonic Trance, which veered toward a modern sort of electric fusion, steeped in R&B and hip-hop. Of late, he seems to be after a hybrid of the jazz tradition as he sees it with the leading edge he's pursued.

    "My bag is no bag," Payton told Ashley Kahn for NPR in 2006. "I don't like to be boxed into a certain type of thing. Musicians in New Orleans I find to be very, very open. It's about the music and the chemistry and the camaraderie. It's not about the genre."

    He had another chance to pick and choose his own norms at the Vanguard.

    Set List

    • "The Backward Step" (Payton)
    • "How High The Moon" (Lewis)
    • "Triptych" (Payton)
    • "Days Of Wine And Roses" (Mancini)
    • "Jasmine" (James Black)
    • "Moment's Notice" (Coltrane)


    • Nicholas Payton, trumpet
    • Taylor Eigsti, piano
    • Vicente Archer, bass
    • Marcus Gilmore, drums
    • Daniel Sadownick, percussion


    • Josh Jackson, producer and host
    • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
    • Josh Webb, recording assistant
  • Live Tonight: Nicholas Payton at the Village Vanguard

    March 10, 2010. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

  • Steve Wilson on Live at the Village Vanguard

    March 4, 2010. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive
    Wilsonian's Grain - Live at the Village Vanguard March 24
    Wilsonian's Grain - Live at the Village Vanguard March 24

    Steve Wilson is one of the finest saxophonists in the business: He's what musicians label a "first call" player. If you have a session coming up and you want great alto and soprano sax work, Wilson is your man. Many have called; Wilson has played on more than 100 albums, and he's a key member of Grammy-winning groups such as the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Dave Holland Sextet and Chick Corea's Origin.

    Wilson grew up in Virginia and earned a music scholarship to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he performed and studied with Lionel Hampton, the Heath Brothers and Ellis Marsalis. Eventually, the saxophonist made his way to New York and hooked up with some other talented young up-and-comers in the O.T.B. (a.k.a. Out of the Blue) band, organized by Blue Note records. Wilson is also a member of the all-star ensemble Blue Note 7, which is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the label in 2009.

    Wilson has recently been off to the far-east for concerts with Christian McBride and Inside Straight. But he returns and hits the ground running with his Wilsonian's Grain band for Live at the Village Vanguard on Wednesday, March 24.  WBGO listeners may recall this band which was captured by JazzSet in April 2009.

    This is WBGO’s Josh Jackson second broadcast from the Village Vanguard in March and it is sure to be exciting.  The band that evening will include Orrin Evans, Ugonna Okegwo and Bill Stewart.  The performance begins at 9pm, and will be available live online at WBGO.org.