TEXTURES - A new recording from Nicholas Payton


The new recording by NICHOLAS PAYTON to be Released June 17, 2016

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

LETTERS - A new recording from Nicholas Payton


The new recording by NICHOLAS PAYTON to be Released August 7, 2015

26 Tracks of Mastery on Full Display!

Being a pianist, I am fascinated in hearing how musicians whose primary instrument is not the piano, touch the keys. While there are seemingly no limits to the variety of sounds which can be achieved through the instrument, I've noticed that horn players, bassists, drummers and vocalists inevitably approach the piano with an unaffected kind of fresh take, untethered by constraints imposed by the ego of a self-claimed pianist.

With crystal clear articulation and a refreshingly welcoming economy of notes, Nicholas achieves such a warm, infectiously optimistic mood from the piano without broadcasting any sort of agenda to exhibit “pianism." And this lack of a projected impulse to affect a virtuosic front creates some of the most inviting piano I’ve heard in recent times.

The mutual respect within the band is abundantly apparent in every turn of phrase. Anyone who’s truly listening can sense that Nicholas, Vicente and Bill love playing together. This is an energetically engaged band. All three players are so versed in music that they share values and an unspoken attitude of zero jiveness or "show biz” trickery in their collective approaches.

This music is fertile and potent with emotion, and all the while the wide-ranging sweep of moods represented on these two discs is doing things to your ears and body, there is an ongoing dialogue in every moment for the intellectual seeker to feast on.

Nicholas’ piano playing reveals an unhampered approach to telling a story and connecting with the rhythm section organically rather than stacking upon them. This chemistry mirrors how much easier it becomes for humans to connect in substantial ways when egos are set aside with an intention to support and compliment one another. Nicholas’ piano playing speaks with the clarity of honesty and a noticeably selfless, organic vibe that I must say I’ve never quite heard or felt before.

There is a sonorous nature to the songs and intervals which cause a piece we’ve never previously heard to feel like a hip long-lost friend, like meeting someone and intuitively feeling so relaxed around them as though you’ve known them all your life.

~Benny Green, 2015


On the Subject of My New Site

Welcome to the new home to all things Paytone. Those of you who are familiar with me know that I'm in a constant state of evolution. I'm always looking for new and better avenues of expression when the good old fashioned way doesn't seem suited anymore. This is not to denigrate the past, but more of an expression of breathing new life into our surroundings. I've undergone a lot of changes in the past few years, from the #BAM movement to the launching of my own record label. In light of this, I thought it would be fitting to have a website that was a reflection of these shifts.

I want you to have a place to hover, should you decide to seek an alternative to the tactile world. Consider this a virtual sanctuary. A place where you can leave your woes at the home page and travel to a space where no one expects you to do anything. Because we know that you may want to chill here from home on your laptop or while you're standing in line at one of my gigs on your mobile, we've made this site user friendly across several platforms.

I've been blessed with a team of brilliant minds to help bring my vision to the forefront. No one behind-the-scenes works harder than my representative, Anna Sala in making all this happen. It was through her that I met the architect of this site, Terry O'Gara. These are two of the most fearless minds on the planet and they work tirelessly to see to it that everything they touch is of the best quality.

We didn't want to design a webspace that has you aimlessly clicking on loads of content. We want to give you an experience. It's built on a black background out of respect to Africa as the motherland — the foundation of civilization, community, and culture. Terry has thrown in some purple, green, and gold. In ancient Egyptian culture, black is a symbol for the supernatural. Purple is often associated with royalty, green is for birth, and of course, gold is the Sun. We all know that purple, green, gold are synonymous with my hometown New Orleans — the birthplace of Popular culture.

But no matter where you are from or what you may believe, we invite you to make yourself comfortable here. We created this for you to enjoy.


— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

Numbers – A new recording from Nicholas Payton

Numbers Cover Art: Ceaux Young

I think y’all are going to dig this one. It's what Prince was going for on the Madhouse joints, but we leaned closer to Funk and Soul — with a flare of New Orleans, of course. It’s like Leon Ware and Marvin Gaye - I Want You meets the vamps of The Meters and the cues of The Ohio Players, with a touch of Herbie Hancock and Patrice Rushen thrown in, and a dash of Jay Dee. But it don't sound like none of that shit at the same time.

This album was recorded at Jellowstone Studios on all live instruments in one room with these cats out of VA called "Butcher Brown." Butcher Brown is Corey Fonville on drums; Devonne Harris on keys and bass; Keith Askey on guitar; and Andrew Randazzo on bass.

Fonville's been working with me since 2010. I met him while he was still in college. I kept my eye on him and snatched him up as soon as he finished. He had been telling me about Harris, aka DJ Harrison, for years. Being the product of mentorship myself, the idea of sharing, lineage, and ancestry inspired me to get with these cats whom I felt a kinship. Sankofa is the spirit of Paytone Records. Go back and get it!

When we tracked, I played mostly Rhodes and just a hint of trumpet with the idea that I would go back and overdub solos. After I lived with the material for a while, I came to love it just the way it is. As a result we may have recorded the hippest, funkiest Play-A-Long album that's ever been documented. Musicians, rappers, singers, DJs, and lovers have in this collection of records an album designed for you to float on top of. It’s a bed of sex wrapped in 500-thread count sonic sheets. The idea is that we leave space for you to find yourself in the music. In the New Orleans tradition, collective interplay is key. The cats from Virginia fit right in with my concept.

I had these motifs sitting around for years — these little 2 and 4-bar vamps. Part of the reason I started Paytone Records is to get all this stuff out, so I can do it on my schedule and not have to wait for the green light from someone else. I stopped writing songs over 10 years ago. I get moments of melodic, chordal, or rhythmic inspiration and I put that down. They write themselves. That’s the real stuff.

When I began to assemble all of these melodic fragments, I was astonished at how seamlessly they all fit together. It’s like when you buy clothes and pick up a tie here or a vest there. Then you go to your closet and arrange an ensemble and it works as if you bought all the pieces at the same time, but it’s an assortment of things you’ve accumulated over the years. Because they were all picked with your eyes, it works. That’s what composing is for me these days.

So far, Butcher Brown and I have done two sessions. The first was September 9 – 11, 2013, and the one that produced Numbers was from December 18 – 20, 2013. The last tune we did in the first session is called “One,” so I called the first piece from the 2nd session, “Two.” So if you’re wondering why the first track on Numbers is “Two,” and it makes you ask, “Where’s One?” you’ll have to wait for the first album.

If someone wants you to describe what Numbers sounds like, tell them it’s like Nicholas and Butcher Brown took a time capsule back to 1973 and played a gig for the people demonstrating what's happened in music for the past 40 years.

~Nicholas Payton, May 2014
New Orleans, LA

NUMBERS will be available July 22, 2014
on Paytone Records