[JPL] Vamps, Grooves and All Sorts of Ideas, Old and New

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 9 22:11:59 EDT 2007

June 9, 2007
Music Review | Nicholas Payton Quintet
Vamps, Grooves and All Sorts of Ideas, Old and New

Around the time he turned 30, in 2003, the trumpeter
Nicholas Payton started loosening up his music, taking
strides away from established form. Every good jazz
bandleader has to work on his own technique on the one
hand, and his ensemble concept on the other; a balance
is desired. Perhaps because Mr. Payton started his
career in the 1990s as such an imposing player, with a
New Orleans pedigree and the ability to pull off
early-jazz repertory concerts as well as post-bop,
it’s taken a while for him to bring his ideas about
composition and bandleading into balance with his own

Over the last few years he has been stunning, in my
experience — clear, inventive, dramatic — on other
people’s stages. Meanwhile, within his own
bandleading, he’s still searching. His show on
Thursday night at the Jazz Standard, full of vamps and
grooves and collective improvising, was a
semi-free-form dragnet for ideas that, at least for
the first set of a four-day run, yielded fairly slim

His new group is a quintet, with the pianist Kevin
Hays, the bassist Vicente Archer, the drummer Marcus
Gilmore and the percussionist Daniel Sadownick. The
first tune — the most promising part of the set —
started as a duet for trumpet and piano, with Mr.
Payton playing beautiful, stout long tones, and Mr.
Hays playing melancholy wide-harmony chords below
middle C with the sustain pedal.

Somehow the mood changed, and the music became a
gospel vamp tune, with Mr. Sadownick clapping the
beat. It was the right way to start, and it forced the
kind of mystified response that virtuosos in
recognizable styles usually don’t get: what was that?

Only one tune in the set could be identified as
post-bop, but it came with a provocation. Mr. Hays’s
phrasing became wavelike, while Mr. Archer established
a standard walking-bass pattern. Mr. Gilmore played
typical jazz 4/4 triplets on the ride cymbal, except
that they barely changed, and he did it really loudly.

Much of the rest of the set was music based on fairly
simple one- or two-chord patterns, with Mr. Sadownick
playing congas and cymbals in front of Mr. Gilmore.
And in theory there’s nothing wrong with that (even if
it seems unnecessary to put any other percussionist in
front of Mr. Gilmore, who generates a force field by
himself). But it depends on a higher level of group
chemistry than what was on display.

The Nicholas Payton Quintet continues through tomorrow
at the Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan;
(212) 576-2232.


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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