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Sheri Balsam

Partnering with Music Rising, an organization dedicated topreserving the musical heritage of the Gulf Coast region, TulaneUniversity named Nicholas Payton its featured Artist-in-Residence.Music Rising is a $1 million program aiming to establish a solidunderstanding and study New Orleans’ musical heritage.

Payton, a native of New Orleans and a Grammy-winning trumpetplayer, will be Tulane’s Jazz Artist-in-Residence for the 2011-12academic year. The Jazz Artist-in-Residence is part of the JazzStudies.

“We feel honored to have him here,” Professor John Dobry said.”The wealth of firsthand experience and knowledge he brings is sobeneficial to the jazz program here at Tulane.”

Dobry said Payton was a natural fit for Tulane.

“Nicholas was selected through a variety of ways,” Dobry said.”Being from New Orleans, he knows the tradition and area backwardand forward. His father, Walter Payton, was one of the premier jazzplayers and educators here, so teaching is in his blood. Also,Jesse McBride, who teaches piano, Improvisation and Big Band hereat Tulane, has known Nicholas for some time.”

Assistant professor of music Matt Sakakkeny said that thedepartment of music has wanted to bring in a JazzArtist-in-Residence for years.

“The Jazz Studies faculty met and there was universal agreementthat Nicholas Payton would be the ideal choice to work withstudents in our jazz combos,” Sakakeeny said.

Payton attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, wherehe studied with legendary trumpet player Ellis Marsalis. He hasrecorded eight albums under his own name, including “Doc Cheathamand Nicholas Payton,” which he recorded with the late Doc Cheatham.The album won a Grammy in 1997. Payton is an accredited composer,arranger and a special guest on more than 120 recordings.

“We are still in shock that we were able to hire our firstchoice,” Sakakeeny said.

Payton’s 1996 record, called “Gumbo Nouveau,” helped him gainrecognition. By the mid-1990’s, he had become New Orleans’ latestsignificant contribution to jazz.

“Throughout his career, he has creatively reinterpretedtraditional songs and composed new material that push theboundaries of tradition,” Sakakeeny said. “Nicholas is not only aleading trumpeter in the New Orleans tradition; he is also aprogressive artist who has gained international acclaim for hisinnovative approach to jazz. Nicholas and the jazz faculty agreethat students at Tulane should be grounded in the jazz traditionsthat surround them here in New Orleans, while pushing themselves toextend that legacy into the 21st century.”

Payton will lead workshops in which student combos will perform,and he will offer suggestions that will be helpful to aspiringmusicians.

“It is very exciting to have Nicholas Payton here on campus,”jazz studies major Ethan Stern said. “He is highly revered here inNew Orleans, and it’s an honor to have him teaching classes andinspiring students.”

The first jazz workshops will take place 5 p.m. Wednesday andTuesday, and at 4 p.m. Oct. 4 in Dixon Hall. Additionally, Paytonwill perform with student musicians and faculty of the musicdepartment 8 p.m. Dec. 8 in Dixon Hall.

“Being in connection with the Music Rising program, a big partof the idea is to help tie Tulane to the community musically,”Dobry said. “We hope the bonds between Tulane and the musicalcommunity of New Orleans continue to strengthen and think this willbe a great piece of that. Also, again, just the knowledge someonelike Nicholas brings to our students and the university as a wholeis so amazing. The opportunity to learn and grow continues to buildwith programs like [the Jazz Artist-in-Residence].”


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