On Humanity…

There is little kind about humankind.

“Humanity” is a fairly modern construct designed to separate people from their Light within. Without a connection to Light, people are in darkness and need to design a hierarchal pyramid and put others down in order to feel better about themselves.

As long as this false, “human” hierarchal pyramid construct exists, there can be no collective consciousness or evolution.

The higher-ups have folks fooled that being human is cool, when humanity is the root source of the problem.

“Human” is a race, and as long as humanity exists, racism exists. Human beings will always defer to a hierarchal and oppressive system. Only light beings can ultimately transcend and evolve.

While you’re waiting for God to save you, God is waiting for you to save yourself.

God, The Light, is within.


— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

On Louis Armstrong…

We owe an incredible debt to Armstrong because he really is the fulcrum of American music. Certainly there were masters before him, but everything got funneled and distilled through him to what we have now – from Swing to Rock, from Funk to Hiphop. He changed the feel. It’s one thing to have your own feel, but it’s an entirely different thing to change the conception of what a quarter note feels like. I can’t think of anyone in recorded history who’s done that. And we’re still borrowing his quarter notes – the forward motion and the pulse of that, he changed feel forever.


-Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

The Nicholas Payton Quintet: Live at the Village Vanguard 1997




Inspired by a post of the original handwritten chart to my composition “Back to the Source,” and the convo that ensued on Instagram, I went to look for a DAT tape of my band at the Village Vanguard in 1997. As a band, we did a lot of gigs over the 5 years we were together and I still remember this one quite vividly. Not just because a recording of it exists, but there was a magical vibe in the room that night. Rarely do these nights make it to tape. They are usually rhapsodized about via word of mouth.

Well, here it is:

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There were lots of kats in the house this evening. A couple of them had just moved to NYC from Houston for college: Mike Moreno and Robert Glasper. I didn’t know them then, but they would both play in various bands of mine in the years to come. Their friend, and fellow trumpeter, Carlos Abadie was with them. The late great James Williams was in the house, and was sure to school us on what he heard as a wrong chord on the ballad I chose to close the set with, “I’m Old Fashioned.”

The full set list is as follows (all compositions by me unless noted):

Back to the Source
Paraphernalia (Wayne Shorter)
The Last Goodbye
Concentric Circles
United (Wayne Shorter)
I’m Old Fashioned (Kern & Mercer)

Most of the tunes on this set would appear on our then upcoming album, Payton’s Place. “Back to the Source” is an uptempo burnout song in the tradition of Freddie Hubbard’s “The Intrepid Fox” or Branford Marsalis’ “Spartacus.” For the uninitiated, “burnout” is a way of playing that was invented primarily by Miles Davis and John Coltrane. It’s often modal with few chords, but not necessarily. It has more to do with the rhythmic and harmonic abandon one plays with and it’s typically high energy, but can also be sultry and seductive. Rhythmic interplay is really the hallmark.  “Back to the Source” is more structured burnout. “Paraphernalia” was pretty much vamp-based with the cue system for Miles’ studio version. We play it completely free after the melody while still employing the cue system as a jump off point.

“Concentric Circles” is one of my most influential compositions to date. It’s commonplace now, but no one was doing this when we recorded it 20 years ago. It’s burnout, but it uses what I call fixed broken time in the second half of the form. The syncopated swagger of those pivots provide an underpinning that’s conducive to some real Negroidery.

“The Last Goodbye” was written for our then recently departed brother and fellow musician, Charles “Dia” Taylor, affectionately known to some as “Alto.” He and I were friends long before we knew each other as musicians.

Years before, Steve Turre laid a bootleg on me of Woody Shaw playing “United,” amongst other tunes, at the Vanguard in 1981. When I saw he was in the house, I thought it would be fitting for us to jam on it.

A couple of things to note here: The sound system went out during our first night of the week on Tuesday. It felt so good, we decided to play the rest of the week with no microphones. What you hear on this recording is the pure acoustic sound of the room. We also did two albums during that week, Adonis’ debut album, Song for Donise, and I recorded with Tim for his Gentle Warrior album.

The Nicholas Payton Quintet is:

Nicholas Payton: trumpet
Tim Warfield: tenor sax
Anthony Wonsey: piano
Reuben Rogers: bass
Adonis Rose: drums


There that is. Enjoy!



—Nicholas Payton aka The King of Research




Textures_CD_imageTEXTURES The new recording by Nicholas Payton | Available June 17, 2016 on Paytone Records™

All great art has a rhythm. Movement. A Pulse.

Painting, Music, Dance, Martial Arts, Architecture, Sports. They all have, at their core, a rhythmic undertow.

The strokes of a paint brush have a rhythm. They create patterns, lines, curves, shapes, forms, and ultimately a rhythmic flow. They create movement. Their movement create a feeling. Colors also create a rhythm. They make your eyes move from one component to another. They allow your mind to travel. To think. Ultimately a story is told. A feeling is created. A visual beat penetrates one’s mind and soul.

What happens when master artist Nicholas Payton is a part of the artistic process of painter Anastasia Pelias? Textures is born. As Nicholas told me, “They are off the cuff tracks done in real time with an artist who paints.”  Nicholas takes the strokes of Anastasia’s brush and mirrors them with a beat. The visual beat becomes an aural beat. A pulse. A movement. The colors become harmonies. The strokes become rhythmic shifts. The two become synonymous with each other.

As a listener, you find your own meaning. Every time you listen, a new layer of the story is unveiled. You start to get lost in the music. Have you ever just sat and watched the ocean? At first you see the sand, beach, and waves. Then, as your mind drifts, you start to see beyond the ocean.  You think about the depth of the ocean and its beauty. As the waves crash, one also begins to think of the past, present and future. No wave crashes the same place, or way, twice, yet each is perfect. Each has been here before, but returns in a whole new way.  It is brought to shore as it should. It flows perfectly, yet is never quite predictable. Each wave has its own direction, and its own identity. Textures does the same. You look out into the horizon and see where the sky meets the water. You begin to reflect on the beauty in the world. This is Textures. Movement of a rhythmic undertow (ocean/waves), with harmony and colors on top (the sky and world).

Textures is a master work of art. Created by a master artist. In this case Nicholas Payton uses an instrument he has yet to use on record. As he told me “I set up my keyboard and laptop and Anastasia has a blank canvas and we create a new work in real time.” Nicholas’ instrument here may appear to be a keyboard and laptop at first. But ultimately, his instrument is his mind and soul. Textures flows with perfect clarity, yet takes direction in ways one would not expect. The harmonies take shape in only the way Nicholas’ mind can.  The three basic elements of the mind — intellect, feeling, and will — are displayed as Nicholas searches from within, and let’s the music pour out of his body, and into our ears.  But once it hits our ears, we too, need to let it penetrate our hearts and soul, so that we can find ourselves. We can create our own work of art in our own mind.

Textures exudes compassion. It is radiating with boundless light and compassion. It makes you reflect within to find peace and love.

Begin to let the music enter your body. It is music to relax and think to, music to reflect on, and music to dance to.

Textures, like an any great art, is drenched with rhythm. It has movement. A Pulse. Listen, as I did, over and over again. Find new meaning each time you listen. Find your own rhythm.

All instruments performed by Nicholas Payton

Mixed by: Jehan Buhari and Tom Soares

Mastered by: Michael Fossenkemper

Artwork by: Anastasia Pelias

Cover by: Tom Seltzer, Seltzer Studios

Album Notes by: Alex Silverbook

Artwork for Textures — by Anastasia Pelias

Wassup, y’all:

As many of you know, each tune from my most recent release, “Textures” has a corresponding visual to go with it. So, here for the first time, I will present the collaboration in its entirety. Track numbers and titles will appear under the piece. Anastasia’s titles will be after the em dash…

Artwork by Anastasia Pelias:

1_Do (what you do).jpg

1.) Smooth — Do (what you do)



2_Friday Afternoon, 4-7.jpg

2.) Sticky — Friday Afternoon, 4-7



3a_Blue be Cool 1.jpg

3b_Blue be Cool 2.jpg

3.) Silky — Blue be Cool I & II



4_Everything beautiful goes away.jpg

4.) Fuzzy — Everything beautiful goes away



5_The Struggle is Real.jpg

5.) Hard — The Struggle Is Real



6_Reckless Daughter copy

6.) Wet — Reckless Daughter



7_Night and Day (December).jpg

7.) Rough — Night and Day



8_Not Mortal.jpg

8.) Greasy — Not Mortal



9a_Watusi (I).jpg

9b_Watusi (II)

9.) Soft — Watusi I & II



Both the artwork and the album are for sale.


CD Baby


“Ibbity, ibbity, ibbity… That’s all folks…”


— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop