Louis Armstrong not only set the benchmark for jazz soloing for all who would follow—he also made sure everyone around him had a good time.
Louis Armstrong not only set the benchmark for jazz soloing for all who would follow—he also made sure everyone around him had a good time. On his sixth album, young New Orleans trumpeter Payton salutes Satchmo with a musical love letter that will shock some purists, as it pushes the envelope and eschews the predictable. Paying tribute in spirit rather than in style, Payton extends his arranging skills while serving up a platter that's as exuberant as it is adventurous. For the dancers in the house, there's a hefty dose of Cuban salsa mixed in with the brassy bop: "Hello, Dolly!" opens with a Peanuts-style piano cadence, then turns into a soft bed of horns before morphing into a hard Latin shuffle. Payton augments his fiery but lyrical trumpeting with his vocal debut, airing an understated, clear-voiced tenor. When he needs a saucy growl, he calls on Dr. John, who makes several appearances, including a duet with Dianne Reeves. Toward the end, things get more straightforward: "Tiger Rag" updates the second-line stomp; "West End Blues" includes a familiar horn quote along with the bluesy B-3 organ. The album's centerpiece is the title track, a Payton original—a bluesy ballad in which Payton's horn rings out with a delicacy that would've made Pops proud.—SA