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Sonic Trance by Nicholas Payton

Cass' review of
Sonic Trance

Nicholas Payton

Sonic Trance(2003)
Running time: 68 minutes
Artist: Nicholas Payton
Genre: Jazz
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Artist site: http://www.nicholaspayton.com/
Cass' interview with Nicohlas Payton 


Review Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2004


Louis Armstrong once said, "What we play is life," and "Never play a thing the same way twice." These quotes perfectly describe Nicholas Payton's latest CD, Sonic Trance. The different layers of Payton's musical upbringing only add to his unique sound. His musical pedigree can be traced back to both his parents. Payton's father plays bass, and his mother is a classical pianist.

Initially, Sonic Trance didn't start out being my cup of tea. Grant it, I may have been afraid to venture outside of my safe smooth jazz realm into a different type of musical journey. But, Sonic Trance took me on an emotional roller coaster ride I wasn't prepared for. I found myself smiling when I heard familiar snippets of syncopated African beats in "Fela 1" and Scott Joplin's ragtime melody, "The Entertainer," used as an intro to "Cannabis Leaf Rag 1". Then, I literally laughed out loud when I heard "Shabba Unranked" [Payton actually raps like Shabba on this track], fused with the Mariachi jazz combination of "Two Mexicans on the Wall". Then my mood shifted into an almost melancholy, drug-induced haze when listening to "Séance" and "Fela 2".

The best way I can describe the 18 tracks on this CD is to say that Payton must have been reincarnated with the souls of Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis while putting this multi-faceted Sonic Trance together. And even though you hear their musical influences, along with the many other legendary musicians he's studied with, listened to or admired over the years, be rest-assured that Payton doesn't mimic their styles. Sonic Trance comes across with an attitude of a musician who is unafraid of trying something new because his spirit calls him to do so, regardless of what industry insiders might say. His refusal to be pigeonholed couldn't have worked out any better because Payton's debut CD with Warner Bros. Records was nominated for a Grammy this year.

Adding their special harmonic blend to Sonic Trance are Tim Warfield (tenor and soprano saxphones); Ken Hays (keyboard); Vincente Archer (bass); Adonis Rose (drums); Daniel Sadownick (percussion); Karriem Riggins (sampler); and engineer, James Nicholas.

After listening to Sonic Trance no less than 25 times in two days [and even more since then], I stood up in my living and gave Nicholas Payton a standing ovation. As an encore, I played it again and again!!!

To find out more about Nicholas Payton, please visit his web site at http://www.nicholaspayton.com/. I'd like to also THANK Arvella Kinkaid at Warner Bros. Records for scheduling this interview, as well as the many upcoming interviews with other WB artists.


Hey Nick, Sonic Trance, definitely exemplifies how practice certainly sounds like perfection!!! If you're in town for the last weekend of the 35th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, make sure to stop by the BellSouth/WWOZ Jazz Tent on Friday, April 30, 2004, to listen the distinctive and innovative stylings of jazz trumpeter, Nicholas Payton.


Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2004
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