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Nicholas Payton: Bio

"Payton's clarion trumpet, as well as his genre-defying solos, stood at the center of the music making… Payton bent notes beyond recognition… No descriptive label or category could be affixed to Payton's solos, which were as brashly original as they were technically imposing." – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Nicholas Payton is widely considered one of the greatest artists of our time. Hailed as a virtuoso before he was even out of high school, his maturation and talent has earned him praise and accolades, as well as insured his place in musical history.

When he was barely in his 20s, Nicholas Payton made his major-label recording debut as a leader with From This Moment (Verve). Since then, Payton has consistently committed himself to developing his distinct voice.

He says: "As a musician, as an artist, you're always trying to zero in on the bull's eye as a means of becoming a better version of yourself. I've been able to find the kind of music that's more inclusive of all of my life. The approach and the ideas of my music have become more singular, more cohesive. I have no agenda in terms of a specific genre or style, only to be true to who I am."

Nicholas Payton was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, into a musical family. Encouraged by his mother, a pianist and vocalist, and his father the legendary bassist, composer and educator Walter Payton, Nicholas showed talent for music at a very early age. He received his first trumpet at age four and by age nine was sitting-in with local bands including the Young Tuxedo Brass Band.  By the age of 12, he was a member of the All Star Brass Band that performed and toured extensively. As he grew up and studied, Nicholas successfully learned how to play several instruments. In addition to being an accomplished trumpeter, Nicholas plays piano, bass, drums, tuba, trombone, clarinet and saxophone, et al.  During his high school years, Payton attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts to study with Clyde Kerr Jr. and after graduation attended the University of New Orleans where he studied with Harold Battiste and Ellis Marsalis.

As a leader, he has recorded: From This Moment (1994, Verve); Gumbo Nouveau (1995, Verve); Payton's Place (1998, Verve); Nick@Night (1999, Verve); Dear Louis (2001, Verve); Sonic Trance (2003, Warner Bros.); Into The Blue (2008, Nonesuch); Bitches (2011, In+Out Records); and GRAMMY® award-winning collaboration with Doc Cheatham, the legendary trumpeter, entitled Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton (1997, Verve).

Spanning a multitude of musical genres, Payton has composed and arranged, performed and recorded with his own groups in many settings, including solo, duo, trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, 21-piece big band, as well as his 2012 full orchestral work, The Black American Symphony.

Significant collaborations include: Trey Anastasio, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Daniel Lanois, Dr. John, Stanley Jordan, Elvin Jones, Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Zigaboo Modeliste, Marcus Roberts, Jill Scott, Wayne Shorter, Clark Terry, Allen Toussaint, Chucho Valdes, Dr. Michael White, Nancy Wilson, and many others.  He is credited on over 120 recordings as a composer, arranger, special guest or sideman.

Nicholas has performed at major concert halls and festivals worldwide, notably: The Apollo Theater, Brevard North Carolina Music Festival, Barbican Theater (London), Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, Cite de la Music (Paris), Disney Hall, Essence Music Festival, Lincoln Center, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Orchestra Hall (Chicago), Smetana Hall (Prague), Sziget Festival (Budapest), Vienna Opera House, The White House (Clinton Administration).

Select television and film credits include: Kansas City (Dir. Robert Altman); Original music featured in HBO's Treme Seasons 2 and 3- "Concentric Circles" & "Lil' Duke's Strut" and also on FX Channel's new series, The Americans, "Nick @ Night"; Icons Among Us documentary; The Grammy Awards; The Tonight Show; The Tonight Show Brazil; and EBS TV, Korea. He appears in the final episode of HBO's Treme as an actor and musician performing his composition, "The Backward Step."

Nicholas is a Distinguished Artist and Visiting Lecturer at Tulane University. He has taught master classes, clinics and workshops at over 40 institutions, including Berklee College of Music, The Connecticut Forum (with Beverly Sills, Bobby Weir and Trey Anastasio), Cornell University, Institute of Superior Arts (Havana, Cuba), Loyola University, Northwestern University, Oberlin College & Conservatory, Skidmore College, Stanford University, Thelonious Monk Institute, et. al.

1 Concierto De Aranjuez
2 Will O' the Wisp
3 The Pan Piper
4 Saeta
5 Solea
WPFW's Willard Jenkins speaks w/ Nicholas Payton@2012 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival
The Pace Report: The Second Coming of Nicholas Payton

Grammy-winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton offers the world a present worthy of his immense skills: a live concert performance of the iconic Miles Davis-Gil Evans collaboration, Sketches of Spain via his BMF Records imprint. Framing Payton's virtuosic playing is a 19-piece ensemble comprised of 15 brass and woodwinds and a harpist drawn from theSinfonieorchester Basel with conductorDennis Russell Davies, and Payton's long-time collaborators Vicente Archer on bass, Marcus Gilmore on drums, and Daniel Sadownick on percussion.

13 New 'ON'  135 Total
PRI/Jazz After Hours, Jazz w/Bob Parlocha, PubRadio
Direct: SiriusXM
Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Atlanta, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Houston, Baltimore, New Orleans, San Diego, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Madison WI, Hartford CT, Rochester NY, Tucson AZ, Sacramento
Online: GreenArrow, Audiophile Audition, RadioIO, Jazzin' Around, Taintradio, Moja, Jazz from Gallery 41, Live 365

Crossover Media Projects with: Nicholas Payton