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Jazz Spotlight

March 05, 1995|Bill Kohlhaase

NICHOLAS PAYTON, WESSELL ANDERSON, PETER MARTIN, CHRISTOPHER THOMAS, BRIAN BLADE, "The New Orleans Collective" ( Evidence ) ***

NICHOLAS PAYTON, "From This Moment" ( Verve ) ** 1/2

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton, following in the footsteps of Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove, is the next hot young man with a horn. The surprise here is that Payton, now 21, plays better on the Collective disc, which was recorded in 1992, than he does on the Verve release, which was recorded last September.

The difference is the format. The come-together nature of the Collective recording and its varied program of styles encourage Payton to take chances and play with more spark. Matched with alto saxophonist Wessell Anderson, who was with Wynton Marsalis at the time the Collective gathered, Payton shows promising chops and a sense of adventure missing from the Verve disc.

Still, "From This Moment" has its own attractions, notably the three-deep harmonic team of guitarist Mark Whitfield, vibist Monte Croft and pianist Mulgrew Miller. Divided between six standards and six Payton originals, "Moment" is a polished effort that speaks more highly of Payton the composer than Payton the trumpeter. His brief moments in the improvisational spotlight reflect little on his developing personality, while the Collective recording finds him swinging with promise.

Both albums suffer from too much retro-think, and Payton tends to rely too deeply on the tradition when writing, rather than developing his own voice. Despite these considerations, the releases mark Payton as a sizable talent and someone to watch.

Albums are rated one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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