Jazz Fest Minutes: Making Connections With Multi-Instrumentalist Nicholas Payton

May 4, 2013

Trumpeter, vocalist and keyboard player Nicholas Payton.
Credit nicholaspayton.com

Nicholas Payton is one brilliant musician. He plays just about everything on the bandstand very well. He’s best known for his trumpet work but is also a dynamic keyboard player, and even manages to play superbly on both at the same time.

In recent years Payton has added another tool to his kit: singing.

“When I was around eleven years old I was singing in the Baptist church choir. I used to go to Austerlitz Baptist Church, Uptown. And that’s really where I started singing a lot and developed a love for it. But, you know, being so focused on being an instrumentalist I kind of really didn’t pay much deference to it. But, in recent years, and particularly because so many of the trumpet players that I love also sing, like Louis Armstrong — obviously that’s a big tradition here for most trumpet players to sing. It’s kind of just what everyone does.”

Especially when they write their own lyrics.

“I think the thing that really brought it back for me was I started writing tunes with lyrics, because I felt like I had a message with words as well as music,” he says.

And that writing is also something Payton is more comfortable with these days.

“I’ve been blogging quite a bit. I’m a frequent Facebooker. I’ve had a lot to say with words in recent years and I find myself writing more and more. Which is interesting, because I actually hated writing when I was in school and had to do it. But as an adult I’ve found it to be another outlet and I actually like the usage of words. And the more I’ve done it, the more I feel inspired to do it. The more I get in that zone, the more I feel all of these things sort of connecting, which is why I like to consider myself more of an artist than just a musician.”