Like a master chef possessing a deft sense of proportion, taste and poetic flair, this forward-looking heir to the traditions of New Orleans blends an array of related musical food groups—Bebop, Swing, the Great American Songbook, New Orleans second-line, Mardi Gras Indian, Instrumental Soul, Rhythm-and-Blues, Urban, Hip-Hop, and various Afro-descended dialects of Central America and the Caribbean—into a focused sound that is entirely his own argot.





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.  



The Black American Symphony in six movements for Quartet and Symphony Orchestra.

Composed by Nicholas Payton, and performed in concert by the Nicholas Payton Quartet and Orchestra.

Premiered June 2012 in Prague, Czech Republic, with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra @ Smetana Hall, the Municipal House, Prague, Czech Republic.

The objective of The Black American Symphony is to highlight the contribution Black American music has made to the world. The idea is to use as many forms of Black American music, from its inception to date, to illustrate that Black musics as they have been categorized (blues, gospel, jazz, Rhythm & Blues, Hiphop, etc.) are all a part of a continuum. They are not stylized genres, but rather, the communal expression of a people that has simply changed form with the times.

Unlike William Grant Still's African American Symphony, (which respectfully adopts a European aesthetic), Nicholas was committed to composing a symphony that would draw exclusively from the canon of great Black American music from Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Charles Stepney, Michael Jackson, etc…

Black American Symphony is not a repertory work, but a timely statement that sums up the last 100 years of Black American music and suggests the possibilities of what is ahead for the next 100 years.

Download the Black American Symphony Project Description

Nicholas Payton rehearsing the Black American Symphony in Prague with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra for Prague Proms 2012.


The Television Studio Orchestra is as cinematic as it is Swinging. Sublimely global in its sonic reach, and composed of a brilliant battery of modern and multifaceted players who come in a variety of funky flavors, black and white, male and female, fresh faced talents and road tested journeymen, the Orchestra creates a sonic pallet that is both completely new and yet very familiar. Of the Orchestra's debut performance at Dizzy's, the Wall Street Journal declared: “Mr. Payton's gifts as a trumpet soloist have never been open to question, and now with this latest effort he establishes himself as a composer-arranger-maestro on par with any working today.”

The official TSO press release

Nicholas Payton TSO Program Book

Nicholas Payton and The Television Studio Orchestra, Live @ Dizzy's 3.4.11 Nicholas Payton: Trumpet / Vocals / Arranger Johnaye Kendrick: Vocals Erica Von Kleist: Piccolo Flute Anat Cohen: Clarinet Patience Higgins: Bass Clarinet Chelsea Baratz: Tenor Sax Sharel Cassity: Alto Sax Michael Dease: Trombone Emily Asher: Trombone Max Seigel: Bass Trombone / Tuba Corey King:Trombone Frank Green: Trumpet Freddie Hendrix:Trumpet Bria Skonberg:Trumpet Philip Dizack: Trumpet Omar Abdul Karim"Trumpet Mike Moreno: Guitar Lawrence Fields: Fender Rhodes Robert Hurst III: Bass Roland Guerrero: Percussion Ulysses Owens: Drums