I was first introduced the the music of Nicholas Payton at an International Association of Jazz Educators conference in New Orleans. Payton's performance interrupted my conversation when this "man-child" playing--make that swingin'--with so much confidence, style and harmonic inventiveness belied his youthful appearance. Now, almost 14 years, seven solo albums, almost a dozen guest artist efforts, and a Grammy for Best Solo Jazz Performance later, Payton swings in to Duke University to share his sound with the Duke University Jazz Ensemble.
John Brown, attorney and consummate bass player turned educator, leads The Ensemble this year continuing the great jazz tradition after the retirement of the great Paul Jefferey. This is the fourth concert with a major jazz artist this semester for the young ensemble.
Payton's youth, Brown's passion, and the students of the Duke Jazz Ensemble's enthusiasm should heat up Baldwin Auditorium enough to warm your toes and knock that December evening chill off. 8 p.m. $10; $5 students and seniors. www.tickets.duke.edu for tickets, www.nicholaspayton.com for info.