Picking up where Miles Davis left off with his last album, trumpeter Nicholas Payton's latest release is yet another attempt to marry jazz and more contemporary urban rhythms. If Miles' "doo-bop" was the most prominent effort to marry jazz and rap, then Payton's "Sonic Trance" is performing much the same role for jazz and electronica. House, trip-hop, chill they're all in here, along with more avant-garde and experimental strands as well.
The result is an album that is definitely not background music; it's not always melodic or all that easy to listen to. If you want to get anything out of this, you have to pay attention.
But the challenges Payton presents are always interesting, even when the melding of disparate styles isn't necessarily working. He's trying to work through to something new here, and at times there are glimpses of a different way of approaching jazz and/or techno.
What will be most telling will be whether Payton follows this up with further explorations, or if this turns out to be a one-shot deal. Certainly there was little in Payton's previous recordings to suggest something this stylistically explorative; but if this marks a change of career direction for Payton, it will be something for all of us to celebrate.
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