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Published: 2004/08/27
by Matt Brockett

Live in New York – Nicholas Payton and Sonic Trance

Kufala Records 0063

Nicholas Payton & Sonic Trance embrace the risk-taking that is at the heart of jazz music as their cue to just play and see what happens. The result is a band that can easily offer something new and exciting to both hardcore jazz cats as well as the younger generation of jam/jazz/funk enthusiasts. They explore technology in their use of distortion as instrumentation, while never losing sight of the roots of jazz. Sonic Trance is bold, adventurous experimentation, done with complete and total respect for jazz as an art form.

This band is hot — there's no arguing that right from the start. "Fela" is Payton's swirling leads floated over a laidback '70s Jamaican pimp film groove. "Cannabis Leaf Rag" sounds like a familiar tune. Archer's acoustic bass is fat and funky on this one and the entire tune is tightly composed and seemingly effortlessly played. Midway through, a faint scat over tension filled keys builds into an all over the place jazzed-out jam with some dual hornplay heading back to that familiar tune again for the tight close.

Some impressive horn work comes at the end of "Blu Hays" with Payton and Warfield hicupping trumpet and sax notes back and forth at each other quickly and impressively. "Two Mexicans On The Wall" is "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" mariachi style. Horns, piano, and a few cartoon sounding percussion effects are the main themes before the tune takes a few adventurous turns and finds its way into the realm of pimp jazz with "I'm Trying To Swing As Little As Possible." Soulful key leads over a solid bass and drum groove bring the funk on this one, but it is Payton's wah wah trumpet effects that open up that lesser known realm of the funk, known simply as trumpetfunk.

The announcement that things are winding down comes in the form of "Stardust." With a lazy trumpet and a bassline that falsely hints at something bigger to come, it ends as soon as it feels like it's finally picking up. "Silence" is nothing of the sort, with a slow build that starts to get really crazy before popping back into a distorted, funkier version of the original groove filled with weird horn effects. Things fusion right out with some distorted horn leads morphing into undistorted horn sounds for just a quick bar or two to end the song, as if to remind the listener that they are in fact, still hearing horns, as distorted as they may be.

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