Provizer's Jazz Notes
7:51 am
Thu February 20, 2014

XXX: "taking a gumbo approach to the music"

NIcholas Payton and XXX at Dazzle this week
NIcholas Payton and XXX at Dazzle this week
This week in live music gets off to a very strong start when New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton brings his XXX trio to Dazzle on Thursday and Friday. When I heard that Payton, the son of noted Crescent City bassist Walter Payton, was coming to town, I remembered an interview I did with the trumpeter some 19 years ago for a piece I wrote for Jazziz magazine titled “No Last Call (New Orleans’ Next Round).” Back then, Payton had just turned 22 and had his first album as a leader under his belt, From This Moment on Verve. “When I was growing up,” the trumpeter commented, “my dad had thousands  of records, from early jazz to Ornette Coleman, as well as other types of music. In order to work in New Orleans, you had to play all kinds of things to make a living and that’s what my dad did. At first, I took New Orleans music for granted. I listened to Miles, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, but not Louis Armstrong. It wasn’t until I was around 17 that I got into the older players.” Of course 17 doesn’t quite sound like discovering something late in life. But keep in mind, as Payton noted back then, “ when I was 15 or 16, record companies were after me. But I wanted to put that off. I wanted to develop the fundamentals and not just be a quick and ill-prepared young lion who would fade. Everyone wants to be successful, yet it’s important to have success that goes beyond surface things. And in order to have that, you need to have a foundation. I was lucky to be with Elvin (Jones), because one of the problems today is the lack of opportunity to play with older musicians in working bands.” Those comments always sounded pretty mature to me. Over the years, Payton has been fairly successful in, to use words, “trying to figure out a combination that works for me.” In 2013, he released two strong and rather different discs on the BMF label – one a live recording from Washington DC’s Bohemian Caverns with a trio (with bassist Vincente Archer, who will be at Dazzle, and drummer Lenny White) and the other a recreation of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain. In Denver, the third X in the group is the young New Orleans drummer Joe Dyson (who has worked with Dr. Lonnie Smith). For dates in the spring, drummer Marcus Gilmore is back with Payton, while for some later dates Bill Stewart is in the drum chair. In any case, XXX, in which Payton plays the Fender Rhodes along with the trumpet, takes a gumbo approach to music. The group plays at 7 and 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday ($25/$15 for students on Thursday, 303-839-5100). On Saturday, the Colorado Conservatory of the Jazz Arts (CCJA) holds its annual Big Band Boogie Bash at the Mercury Café, 2199 California, starting at 1 p.m. The event features a blend of college and high school bands that starts with big bands from the University of Northern Colorado and Metropolitan State University of Denver then shifts to a group from Legend High School. After that its big bands from University of Denver’s Lamont School, the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado State University and the Denver School of the Arts before moving toward its 8 p.m. close with a band from the CCJA.  The event helps support CCJA’s outstanding program to develop young jazz talent ($15/$10 for students, 303-294-9281). Not long after the Big Band Boogie Bash ends, saxophonist Karl Denson and his Tiny Universe pick things up with their Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. in Boulder, at 9 p.m. ($22.50/$25 at the door, 303-786-7030). On the crossover jazz front, pianist Alex Bugnon is at the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 E. 1st Ave., on Saturday at 8 p.m. ($30-$40, 303-830-9214), while Spyro Gyra brings its 35th anniversary tour to Aspen at the JAS Café downstairs at the Nell from Thursday through Saturday at 7 and 9:15 p.m. ($35-$45, jazzaspensnowmass.org). Also during the week, pianist Peggy Stern is at Dazzle on Sunday at 7 p.m., with Art Lande on drums and Peter Sommers on saxophone ($10), Steve Mullins and Rim of the World let flamingo sounds fly at Dazzle on Monday at 7 p.m. ($10), guitarist Jim Stahlhut celebrates a new CD with a quartet at Dazzle on Tuesday and guitarist Roger Harmon presents the group East Race at Dazzle on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ($8). Additionally, the Augustana Arts Concert Series has a fundraiser with Dotsero to support “City Strings Youth Music Education.” The event is at Jazz at Jack’s, 500 16th St., on Sunday starting at 5 p.m. ($20, 303-388-4962). And Saturday also finds the Brubeck Brothers Quartet in Lakewood at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway. The Brubeck boys, Chris and Dan, pay tribute to their dad at 7:30 p.m. with a quartet that includes a familiar name in these parts, Chuck  Lamb, on piano ($25, 303-987-7876). And remember that next week, too, starts of with a roar when alto saxophonist Bobby Watson brings his mighty Horizon band to Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden on February 27. The group that has visited Mount Vernon in the past features Victor Lewis on drums, Edward Simon on piano, Terell Stafford on trumpet and Essiet Okun Essiet on bass (303-526-0616 for reservations). Normanprovizer@aol.com