Multi-instrumentalist, composer and trumpet master, Nicholas Payton, is one of the most important artists working and recording today. A virtuoso before he was even out of high school, his talent and skill has earned him praise and accolades, as well as insured his place in musical history. 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.
Payton is the President of his own successful independent label, Paytone Records ™. The latest project is the Afro-Caribbean Mixtape where he seamless merges contemporary music, spoken word, African rhythms, and the voices of historical figures with a performance and execution that is unmatched. He says: “It is often said that New Orleans is the northernmost region of the Caribbean. Africa is the source of all rhythms. The Afro-Caribbean Mixtape is a study of how those rhythms were dispersed by way of the Middle Passage throughout Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico, then funneled through the mouthpiece of New Orleans to North America and the rest of the world.”
Nicholas was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, into a musical family. He 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, among others.
When he was barely in his 20s, Nicholas made his major-label recording debut as a band leader on Verve Records. Since then, he has recorded a multitude of albums, as well as performed world-wide with his own groups and as a special guest. His CV is lengthy and impressive with notable collaborations and album credits. In 1997, at age 25, Nicholas won a Grammy Award for his collaboration with Doc Cheatham.
Payton has toured the world with Ray Brown, Elvin Jones and list significant collaborations including Trey Anastasio, Ray Charles, Daniel Lanois, Dr. John, Stanley Jordan, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, Zigaboo Modeliste, Marcus Roberts, Jill Scott, Clark Terry, Allen Toussaint, Chucho Valdes, Dr. Michael White, Nancy Wilson, and many more. He recently produced a brilliant Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald for the gifted singer, Jane Monheit. He is credited on over 140 recordings as a composer, arranger, special guest or sideman. Nicholas resides in his hometown of New Orleans where he maintains an active life touring, teaching and recording. He is also a prolific writer and historian and is the founder of the Black American Music movement.