May 19, 2017 - Tonight the Symphony Center Presents (SCP) Jazz series will present Grammy Award-winner Nicholas Payton with Afro-Caribbean Mixtape. Payton’s new album and band draws on a global array of beats and melodies while still paying homage to his New Orleans roots. The renowned jazz duo of saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash open the evening with selections ranging from traditional to free jazz.

For the set inspired by Payton’s 2017 release Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, he performs on trumpet, Fender Rhodes keyboard and clavinet along with Braylon Lacy (bass), Joe Dyson (drums), Daniel Sadownick (percussion), and DJ Lady Fingaz (turntable). The new project explores how African rhythms were dispersed by way of the Middle Passage throughout Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico and then funneled through the mouthpiece of New Orleans to North America and beyond. Payton blends bebop, swing, the Great American Songbook, soul, rhythm and blues, urban, hip-hop, traditional New Orleans’ cultural genres such as second-line parade music and Mardi Gras Indian music, and various Afro-descended dialects of the Americas and the Caribbean into a focused sound that is entirely his own. The Wall St. Journal described Afro-Caribbean Mixtape as “a work of great rigor and discipline, steeped in jazz tradition and yet utterly unbound.”

Opening the evening is the Steve Wilson-Lewis Nash Duo. Wilson and Nash navigate a varied jazz terrain with an attitude that DownBeat described as “the sure-footed intrepidity possessed by improvisers whose sensibilities evolved in the company of masters of prior generations.” Their set features selections ranging from Ellington to Monk to Ornette Coleman and may include “The Mooch,” “Caravan,” “Señor Blues,” “Con Alma” and an original tune by Wilson.

​Wilson and Nash debuted their duo in 2001 in New York City and recorded the album “Duologue” in 2014. Eschewing bass and all chordal ornamentation, saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash are two instrumentalists whose playing is richly steeped in the history of jazz. Wilson and Nash never leave melody behind—their dual statements sing and swing, even as the pair jump off into part unknown and unexpected.

Tickets for all Symphony Center Presents Jazz series concerts can be purchased by phone at 800-223-7114 or 312-294-3000; online at, or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.


Grammy-Winner Nicholas Payton Returning to Symphony Center Jazz Series with Afro-Caribbean Mixtape

Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton (photo courtesy of Mr. Payton).