For trumpeter Nicholas Payton, a three-month vow to stop using the term "jazz"

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Photograph by Michael Wilson

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has announced a 90-day personal moratorium on using the word “jazz,” according to a new interview posted at “On March 7,” Payton says, “I’m definitely going to start using it again.”

Payton has recently been asserting that “jazz” is an outdated term, notably on his lightning-rod blog — where, in a December entry, he wrote “An Open Letter To My Dissenters On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore” — and on his always-entertaining Twitter page. (Hashtag: #BAM.) Payton’s assertion on the old musical nomenclature: “It’s of ambiguous origin; no one really knows where it’s from.”

The New Orleans native, 38, says he prefers “Black American Music,” a term that would include jazz as part of a continuum between spirituals and contemporary R&B. He recently organized the inaugural Black American Music Conference in New York City, in an effort to jump start a discussion on the topic. “I thought we could clear up some of the misconceptions,” Payton says. “It obviously started quite a conversation online.”

Payton says he prefers Black American Music because it’s inclusive of a broader spectrum of sounds — and doesn’t possess the same built-in preconceptions that “jazz” does. “A lot of people hear ‘the j-word’ and they’re immediately turned off,” Payton says. “The music is more deserving of respect.”

Here’s a look back at recent thoughts on Nicholas Payton, including our own two-part interview with the trumpeter. Click through the titles for more …

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: NICHOLAS PAYTON: Trumpeter Nicholas Payton may have begun his journey as part of the traditionalists in the early-1990s Young Lions movement, but he couldn’t have emerged any further afield. In fact, Payton’s R&B-infused project Bitches is only just now seeing the light of day, in a completely remixed format, after being rejected last fall by the stalwart jazz label Concord. He joined us for an SER Sitdown to talk about his new groove-focused recording, breaking out of the strictures of jazz tradition and — forget the album title — how women have had a sweeping impact on his band.

ONE TRACK MIND: NICHOLAS PAYTON ON SONGS FROM ‘DEAR LOUIS,’ ‘FINGERPAINTING,’ ‘SONIC TRANCE,’ OTHERS: On this special edition of Something Else! Reviews’ One Track Mind, we hand the reins over to the boundary-pushing Nicholas Payton. The New Orleans-born trumpeter talks about bringing Louis Armstrong’s aesthetic into a new age, remembers a drummer-less project that helped us discover new depths in his playing, and rhapsodizes about the lasting joys of the Fender Rhodes.

NICHOLAS PAYTON – BITCHES (2011): Payton’s album title says it all, as Bitches follows the birth and death of relationship, from winking come-on and dizzying passion all the way over to angry recrimination and legal paperwork. Payton underlines the theme of romantic separation by singing and playing on this album almost entirely alone, save for a few notable guest duets. Now, after breaking up with his wife, Payton has seen Concord reject this 15-track song cycle, his first since 2008’s Into The Blue. So, in more ways that one, Nicholas Payton is now going it alone. Rather than retrench into arid jazz cliches, however, he’s dived head-long into a roiling R&B unconventionality.

NICHOLAS PAYTON – SONIC TRANCE (2003): Now here’s some music that’s not easily pigeonholed. A few years ago, they woulda slapped the “acid jazz” (never liked that term) tag on it. Sonic Trance takes the spirit of trip-hop and trance music (which you can hear in the beginning moments of “Praalude (sonic trance)” and smashes it headlong into early fusion, particularly Weather Report and electric Miles. Mixed in is a little of the groove-mining found on many of Bill Laswell’s projects (see: Radioaxium: A Dub Transmission and Panthalassa for a dose of what I’m talkin’ about). What you end up with is a whole lotta funk … from many different directions. A musical hologram.

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