NY Jazz Report's Thad Kawecki and Will Wolf stopped by Iridium tuesday evening to catch master trumpeter Nicholas Payton and his dynamic group "Sonic Trance" performing music from his latest release, his first on Warner Bros. Records, also called "Sonic Trance."
Nicholas Payton Trumpet
Tim Warfield Soprano &Tenor Saxophone
Adonis Rose Drums
Danny Sadownick Percussion
Vicente Archer Bass
Scott Kinsey Keyboards
Wolf: That was quite a performance. I was impressed. It was an exciting blend of many different musical disciplines by an intelligent group of talented musicians. Its jazz for sure. But, with a whole bunch of other stuff mixed in. But that's what jazz is, isn't it, a hybrid form of musical expression. And it was indeed expressive. So, when I say intelligent I don't mean to suggest it was lacking in feeling, emotion, or spontaneity. It had all of those things, too.
Kawecki: Yeah, they were great. I liked the direction of the band. Rather than hearing another set of guys regurgitating the work of a past golden age of jazz, this band’s sound struck me as something fresh and contemporary.
Wolf: It’s a different approach with an acknowledgement of what has come before and not an imitation.
Kawecki: Yes, there were allusions to many prior forms. I like the way they deconstructed Joplin’s “The Entertainer” in their “Cannabis Leaf Rag.”
Wolf: I loved “Cannabis Leaf Rag” especially the dissonant harmony between the trumpet and the soprano sax.
Kawecki: Did you notice how the ragtime head worked over the hip-hop groove? You could easily imagine a rapper in your mind’s ear.
Wolf: It definitely worked, I didn’t think about the rapper but now that you mention it. I could imagine that.
Kawecki: The tune was a lot of fun. Linking hip-hop and ragtime was a pretty cool idea. I didn’t expect to hear that type of drum and bass groove going on. These guys seem to dig groove based tunes as well as freer idioms. An extremely rhythmically exciting band. Don’t you think?
Wolf: Absolutely. The drummer was excellent.
Kawecki: My favorite type of drummer, maximum usage of a small kit. I liked the solo he took, very to the point.
Wolf: I often don’t enjoy drum solos because they seem gratuitous and disconnected. But, this one really struck me and fit in perfectly. The whole rhythm section was a real powerhouse. What about that percussionist?
Kawecki: Outstanding. Did you catch him playing clave on the cowbell with his foot while he was soloing on his congas?
Wolf: I couldn’t actually see him but I heard it. It sounded great. He was amazing.
Kawecki: You know, I really dug this guy. A lot of times a percussionist, in this type of group, seems like sprinkles on an ice cream cone --- nice --- but not essential. Not this guy. He was an integral part of the band. Really shaped the overall sound.
Wolf: He certainly helped to shape it, that’s for sure. The whole rhythm section worked well together. It was a very tight fit.
Kawecki: Yeah. The bass player anchored the band perfectly with beautiful tone to boot. I really dug his solo --- very intelligent.
Wolf: I know you’re fussy about keyboard players. What did you think?
Kawecki: Perfect rig for this band: acoustic, a real Fender Rhodes and a sampler. Great playing but I would have liked to have heard more acoustic.
Wolf: Yes, me too. But, for this band I understand the heavy Rhodes use.
Kawecki: Yeah. You’re right.
Wolf: Payton has certainly put together the right group of musicians to make this work and to help him get across his musical message. He was superb.
Kawecki: The guy’s a monster. Plays a great open trumpet. Talented arranger too. I really dug Stardust.
Wolf: Wonderful arrangement. The novel rhythmic approach to this old chestnut along with Warfiield’s soulful tenor interaction with Payton made it a real winner. My favorite.
Kawecki: Me, too, I really liked the tune’s architecture --- recurring bass motif under the melody and changes. Very hypnotic. Kind of like Coltrane’s Naima. And Warfield was terrific. His tenor was a nice change from the soprano that he used for the rest of the set.
Wolf: His soprano work was delightful.
Kawecki: Yeah. His timbre and intonation on the instrument were great, without a hint of some pissed off snake charmer.
Wolf: Nope. No snake charmers here tonight --- just the trance.
Kawecki: And the applause.
Nicholas Payton and Sonic Trance will be performing at Iridium through Sunday the 19th of October.
email Thad Kawecki
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