Nicholas Payton at Birdland: a groovy and sophisticated way to spend a winter night

4 Feb

It was around 11pm and Birdland, as always, was feeling lovely and cosy, with listeners whispering. The club is a place to unwind and absorb sounds and melodies coming from the bandstand, where so many breathtaking musicians perform, and also to enjoy the delicious and original food – yes, the club even serves Southern food, which was particularly fitting for a New Orleans-based musician like Payton. 


Picture by Girish Sharma

On Jan. 24, Nicholas Payton performed with Aaron Parks on piano, Bill Stewart on drums and Vicente Archer on bass. Aaron Parks, who had played with guitar player Kurt Rosenwinkel at the club the Jazz Standard not too long before (, proved one more time how lyrical he could be, especially towards the end of the set, when the band performed “When I fall in love.”

Payton enjoys mixing his own compositions with standards. The first few songs of the set were titles with numbers: “Nine,” “Six,” and “Ten.” “Ten” was a sort of ballad and sounded almost like smooth jazz, and it was very soothing, with a lovely melody – the kinds Payton knows how to compose so well. Payton also played with his mute and sang. His singing is jazz and rnb, which, he said, is integral to his work.


Picture by Girish Sharma

The quartet also played “How deep is the ocean” and “I want to stay right here in New Orleans” – Payton never forgets his Southern roots.  


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