Culture is a Beautiful Thing
An Interview with Clarinetist Dexter Payne
by Michael Zubrinic
930 Lincoln St. Denver, CO 80203 | (303) 839-5100
Culture is a beautiful thing. It differentiates us from one another, yet it can create very strong bonds between people. Music is a form of culture that is universal and can take many different forms, depending on where it originates. It is a very powerful commodity, one that can influence, educate, and connect. Music crosses the cultural boundaries that we create and can be appreciated by most people regardless of context and even language. Dexter Payne has always been fascinated by the power of music which gave birth to his “winding musical journey” in which he has performed around the world, from Tijuana to Paris and Montreal to Buenos Aires. Dexter states he wants to “Bring to my listener the music of foreign cultures, and broaden their focus beyond American culture. Cross-cultural music is a very potent and powerful thing. Visceral, liberating and educational but not just in a musical sense. Any time you break out of an inherently narrow viewpoint and gain a larger perspective, it’s such a beautiful, disorienting experience.”
“Any time you break out of an inherently narrow viewpoint and gain a larger perspective, it’s such a beautiful, disorienting experience.”
Dexter has always been curious when it comes to learning from the music and art of other countries and the knowledge gained from traveling inspires him. Inquisitive by nature, Dexter formed an early interest in all things musical. At the age of 5, he knew he wanted to try his father’s clarinet, and and by the time he was 9 began a relationship with the instrument which would later become his primary vehicle for musical creation. Growing up in Denver, he developed a proficiency on clarinet, saxophone, and harmonica at an early age under the direction of his teacher, the late Jack Fredericksen. He began playing in several school bands, playing mostly saxophone and harmonica, but his love for the clarinet lead him to explore other genres of music. Jazz was one form of music that didn’t restrict his creativity and allowed him to devote time to his instrument of choice. After his high school years, Dexter started playing in various rock n roll, blues, folk, and jazz bands and began touring with some of these bands. Once back home in Boulder, CO, he met guitarist Mitchell Long who sparked his interest in Brazilian jazz, particularly Brazilian Choro, in which clarinet was often featured.
After the passing of his wife, Judy Roderick, Dexter decided to do some traveling to learn more about the music that he had fallen in love with. He embarked on a near 3-year educational journey that led him through 11 different Latin & South American countries where he performed and internalized the local music. Dexter finally arrived in Brazil by way of Venezuela and spent some time playing in the house band on a local TV show in Manaus. He eventually made his way to Rio where he happened upon his hero, legendary clarinetist, Paulo Moura.
It was in Rio that Dexter recorded his first instrumental album as lead solo voice, “Inspiration,” with guitarist Antonio Mello and the unrelated Gaudencio Thiago de Mello. He formed a friendship with Thiago that lasted for many years before Thiago’s recent passing. Dexter released 4 CD’s with Thiago, played in his big band in New York City, and returned to Brazil with him to perform at the MIMO festival.
After his return to Colorado, Dexter assembled a group of musicians with whom he could perform Brazilian choro jazz. This group consisted of Bill Kopper on guitar, Raoul Rassiter on drums and percussion, Dave Willey on accordion, and Dexter on clarinet. Later, pianist Victor Mestas moved to Denver from Venezuela and joined the group. According to Dexter, the Dexter Payne Quintet “strives to create dynamic conversation in their music that is interwoven with contrapuntal give and take, traditional in Brazilian choro music.” Fresh off a recording session for their new Pathways to Jazz funded CD, the Dexter Payne Quintet will be returning to the DazzleJazz stage on February 23. “These are times when cultural relevance is extremely important,” Dexter said. “Above all my goal is to spread love and awareness to the listener.”
Notes from Dexter:
“When I first played music in Mexico in 1990, having very little left of my Jr High Spanish, I had a powerful experience of how music connects across cultural boundaries. When I went back in 95, on the beginning of my “long journey” I had some Spanish and was actively studying Brazilian choro, and had a minimal awareness of Afro-Cuban music. And then I headed south. The experiences were still magical but less fantasy-like, more real world…. but very rewarding and satisfying. A year and a half later I arrived in Brazil with no Portuguese. Progressive stages of re-discovering something I had already found as a white person in Black American music and later in African music.”
“We need to break out of our narrow viewpoints and gain a larger perspective. It’s true for all of us, but particularly white North Americans! Large countries breed homogeneous vision. It’s partly geographic, “Everything as far as I can see is the same.” But it’s cultural too, and now more than ever. We’ve all been through the blender, so we don’t notice/accept the beauty of the rainbow. if it’s not just like me, it’s dangerous, scary. And short sightedness collapses on itself.”
“The high contrast cultural differences (music, language, garb, religion) get our attention – for better or worse, apparently. But it turns out the every one of us has a different “culture” even right here. Like beer, or wine, yogurt, pickles (not mass produced) – each one ferments a little different flavor. So if we tune in and pay attention and notice, we can have a big exciting cross cultural bonding experience right in our own back yard, with our brother from another mother. The key is appreciating/enjoying the difference. So I have as much contrast with Bill as I do with Victor, or Raoul or Dave. And when we all pay attention to all that bandwidth, music gets really fun.”
Michael Zubrinic is an enthusiastic music lover, beer geek, and an avid fan of the Colorado outdoors. He currently serves on the Promotions team at DazzleJazz.
Dexter Payne’s new CD, Pra Vocè (“For You”), delights listeners with the swing-powered sounds of Brazilian choro and baião. But the Colorado clarinetist’s sound started with a more Manhattan muse: Clarabell the Clown, from Howdy-Doody.
“He played clarinet by ear,” Payne explains. “He stuck the clarinet in his ear, and someone in the band played beautiful clarinet.”
Clarabell’s joke went over Payne’s head as a pre-schooler; but the music spoke to his soul. And gave Payne his first life goal: to play his Dad’s old clarinet.
It took a while. When his family moved from New York to Colorado, Payne’s father asked the kids to sing folk songs in the car to counter their altitude sickness. Dexter’s family sang the melodies. But he thought melody was kid’s stuff.
“I kind of got bored with it,” Payne says.
To amuse himself, he worked out the harmonies on a harmonica his grandmother had given him. Then, he noticed his ukulele’s chord-master, a small box that created chords by compressing the uke’s strings at the push of a button.
I could do that by hand, Dexter deduced. So, he did.
But all he wanted was that old clarinet. Until he got his hands on it, in third grade.
“Someone had sat on it,” he guesses, “because it was crooked. To that, I attribute my desire to play the saxophone.”
If you’re noticing a pattern of Dexter Payne traveling from Point A to Point B along a more interesting, curved road, you may be right.
The saxophone-playing Payne was inducted a new Dixieland band by his school’s athletic coach. The coach didn’t know music, but he had access to “these little books” for his prodigies. Under his direction, Payne played his first gig, at age 11. The event: The Gates Rubber Company Ladies’ Auxiliary Luncheon.
His next career step occurred during a performance of a Broadway musical in high school. The score was well-orchestrated. The band was well-rehearsed. But on show night, their well-prepared performance was upended.
“The singer forgot the lyrics and jumped ahead four verses,” Payne recalls. “The (conductor’s) baton fell on the stand.”
Payne had his Aha! moment in the pause between that dropped baton and potential chaos. It was a bit of a Buddhist Be-Here-Now-meets-Broadway thing.
“Just in a flash, I knew where she (the singer) was,” Payne says. “I started playing along where she was and the others joined in.”
In that moment, Payne the performer was born.
He made it through a year of college, before a professor advised him to hit the road. He became a swing musician, a country-blues musician and part of the 1970s Boulder, Colorado music scene.
(On a side note, music and movie fans? 1970s Boulder sounds perfect for a period music movie, if anyone’s interested. Rocky Mountain. World-class musicians. Elephant bell-bottom jeans? Just a thought.).
“The Boulder music scene in 1970 was just crazy. Steven Stills lived in Gold Hill,” a one-road, former mining town above the city. “Within a year, I got a job in a local music store called The Music Store and learned to fix horns,” Payne says.
He also met his musical and romantic partner, singer Judy Roderick.
His life was on track. Which means? It was time for another curve.
In 1974, a band Payne went on a “one-way tour” with a band that dissolved after a gig in Montana.
“I’ll stay the winter,” Payne thought. He stayed for 18 years.
Life in Montana was affordable and arts-friendly. He could be a musician without holding down a day job. And he was making money touring.
Payne and Roderick’s western swing band, The Big Sky Mudflaps, played on The Today Show and A Prairie Home Companion.
The band was a mix of professional musicians and dedicated amateurs. That mix lent it a passionate energy, Payne believes.
“I was totally engaged,” Payne says.
The Big Sky Mudflaps still exist today. “Once a Mudflap, always a Mudflap,” Payne says. Although these days, he’s an honorary member.
Payne returned to Boulder after a tragic life curve: Roderick had died from complications of diabetes in 1992.
He joined a touring trio with an old friend, Don (BBQ Bob) DeBacker on guitar and a drummer named Troubled Tom for three years. But the drummer’s name wasn’t the only troubled thing about that band.
“Things started going south, figuratively,” Payne says. “And things kept coming up that made me think about heading south, literally. I was 39 years old before I ever left the country.”
He joined a movie crew for a project in Mexico. When the movie didn’t materialize, he kept moving.
His original plan was to leave the States for a few months.
“But two and half years later, I was halfway through the trip,” Payne says.
Street musician. Musician on a live band for a local TV show…
The musical pieces were coming together.
Payne discovered The Brazilian musical form called chorinho while playing on the street in Brazil. The word translates as, “little lament,” in English. The style, born in Rio de Janeiro, had parallels in New Orleans Jazz, he notes.
Chorinho was the southern hemisphere’s version of Dixieland and bluegrass. And clarinet played a large role in it.
“Oh, yeh!” Payne remembers saying.
In chorinho, “the harmony is kind of implied on the melody,” he explains. The music’s mix of European harmonies and African rhythms appealed to him as well.
You can picture a winding river of sound connecting Payne’s childhood harmonica harmony searches through his high school musical Aha!, western swing and jazz to his current interest in chorinho.
But to enjoy his new disc, all you have to do is listen.
All the tracks on Pra Vocé but one are traditional tunes, played by the Dexter Payne Quartet + 1. The CD’s original track, “No Wolf at the Door”, was co-written by Payne and the late Brazilian multi-instrumentalist and composer Gaudencio Thiago de Mello.
Watch Dexter Payne talking about the bad-ass nature of beauty in music here.
Listen to a cut from Pra Vocé here.
Follow Sharon Glassman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/classicquirkysg
Dexter Payne: Pra Você (2014)
By CHRIS M. SLAWECKI, Published: May 26, 2014
Pra Você is clarinetist Dexter Payne’s homage to the late Thiago de Mello, the composer, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist whose life and music reflected the panoramic beauty of his native Brazil and with whom Payne recorded several beautifully reflective pieces of music, including and especially their self-produced 2007 duetAnother Feeling (2006, Dexofon). Take time to stroll around and enjoy the beauty of its pathways and gardens, and sit in its contemplative shade, and you’ll quickly learn that the quietly brilliant Pra Você more than honors de Mello—it seems to warmly embody his very musical breath.
The uniquely beautiful blend of Brazilian, jazz (especially New Orleans), African and other instrumental musical styles on Pra Você also illustrates Payne’s expansive background: He’s studied Balkan dance music in Istanbul, spent a decade playing throughout Africa (including Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda), which culminated in his 2008 appointment as Director of the Afropop Ensemble at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and more recently toured the US and Canada with the The Lionel Young Band, the 2011 International Blues Challenge Champion.
Payne is clearly the leader but every musician’s voice—Dave Willey-Accordion on accordion,Bill Kopper on six- and seven-string guitar and Victor Mestas Perez from Venezuela on piano—sings through the liquid rhythms poured out on drums and pandeiro by Raoul Rossiter (who plays with Kopper in the band Ginga). Rossiter keeps Pra Vocêflowing with gentle but exquisite rhythms, rippling into the spaces between the piano and guitar in the live recordings “Sampa” and “Assanhado” and warm, quicksilver closing homage to the Brazilian state “Lembrei do Ceará.” In a performance as brilliantly quiet as Dom Um Romao’s on the legendary Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967, Reprise), Rossiter places every beat in just the right place.
This live version of “No Wolf at the Door,” which first appeared on Another Feeling, paints Jobim’s “Meditation” in guitar, piano and accordion shades, with Pérez and Payne so attuned that their piano and clarinet seem to complete each other’s phrases.
Like twin dawns, the two opening selections sound particularly beautiful early in the day. Kopper opens “Chorinho pra Você” in a cascading acoustic guitar waterfall, into which Payne’s clarinet expertly yet playfully dives like a dolphin. In the choro standard “Alma Brasileira,” which translates to “Brazilian soul,” Payne’s singing clarinet and its deft interplay with the quicksilver rhythm section on which it dances lends the spirit of New Orleans improvisational jazz to this classic Brazilian piece.
Track Listing: Alma Brasileira; Chorinho pra Você; No Wolf at the Door; Sampa; Doce de Coco; Playground; Assanhado; Conversa de Botequim; Lembrei do Ceará.
Personnel: Dexter Payne: clarinet; Dave Willey: accordion; Bill Kopper: six-string guitar, seven-string guitar; Victor Mestas Pérez: piano; Raoul Rossiter: drums, pandeiro.
Record Label: Dexofon Records
OffBeat Magazine New Orleans, LA
Pra Você (Dexofon Records) 01 May 2014 — by Tom McDermott
Dexter Payne is a clarinetist from Boulder, Colorado, and his Pra Você is proof that Brazilian music can flourish in the most unlikely places. There are no Brazilians on this disc, though the pianist is a florid Venezuelan.
That said, everyone, gringos included, plays splendidly here. The disc is nicely divided between choros from Rio de Janeiro and forró,baiaos and xotes from the northeast, plus sambas from Rio and elsewhere. Some choros, like “Chorinho Pra Você” and the ravishing “Doce de Coco” are played straight, while “Assanhado” receives a whimsical “Choro Novo” treatment that would make avant-garde choro players in Brazil smile.
Sambas from Caetano Veloso (“Sampa”) and Noel Rosa (“Conversa de Botequim”) are well-done, and special kudos must go to guitarist Bill Kopper and his beautiful tone and the nifty handiwork of accordionist Dave Willey.
Quite the refreshing disc, one that will help tide me over until I can get back to that enchanted country.
Ever since the forays of American musicians into Rio de Janiero and environs in the early 1960s, Brazilian music has exercised a profound influence on the jazz tradition. When I asked the late flutist Herbie Mann, one of the of the earliest of these visitors, which of the many genres he explored during his career had produced the most satisfying music, his response was “Well, if I had to choose one it would be Brazil.” Clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, even though he is himself from Cuba, has conceded that “Brazilian music is the most balanced formula of rhythm-melody-harmony in the world.”A good deal of what Paquito knows about Brazilian forms he learned during a six month stint in the band of Gaudencio Thiago de Mello. While probably not a household name among jazzreview.com readers–indeed, a Rio newspaper, the Tribuna da Imprensa, refers to Thiago as “one of the best kept secrets in both the Jazz and Brazilian contemporary scenes”–the composer and percussionist is something of a musician’s musician. He has worked with, or had his compositions performed by Gil Evans, Paul Winter, Sharon Isbin, Paquito d’Rivera, Cláudio Roditi, Carlos Barbosa Lima, Tibério Nascimento, Richard Kimball, Oscar Castro-Neves and many others, during a career that spans decades, beginning in the Brazilian Amazon and continuing in New York where he arrived as an immigrant in 1966.
Listening to this recording one might label it as bossa nova, and it does have the feeling of that best known of Brazilian genres, its easy melodic flow, its harmonic and rhythmic subtleties. Yet Thiago de Mello is at pains to point out that there are different styles of music in all the various regions of Brazil, and that he absorbed many of them while living in many parts of the country, not to mention the jazz influences assimilated during his 40+ years in New York. That being said, many listeners might take these compositions–all of them Thiago originals–to be by Jobim or Bonfa, and indeed, many of them can stand comparison with the work of these other Brazilian masters. In fact, this recording is very much about the compositions.
This is not your average, head-plus-solos jazz date. There is room for improvisation, but as Thiago told me, he wanted to create something melodic and romantic. With this in mind, the performers take care to respect the melody throughout. Among them, the primary voice belongs to clarinetist Dexter Payne. Having met Thiago during a visit to Brazil, Payne became a close friend of the composer, whom he refers to as his “big brother.” They became collaborators when Payne came to New York from his home in Boulder Colorado to participate in a session that yielded this and a previous recording, Another Feeling, issued in 2006. While the full range of woodwinds are found in Brazilian music, the clarinet is not the one most associated with it by American listeners. Yet in Payne’s hands it works perfectly, and his sensitivity to the composer’s esthetic is essential to the success of the project, helping to create something between American jazz and Brazilian popular music. Equally essential is the piano work, shared between three performers, and the unique approach to what he calls “organic” percussion taken by Thiago. This refers both to the material from which he constructs his own instruments, and the equally unique approach he takes to rhythm and coloration that allows him to contribute to the rubato sections as well as to the passages of structured meter. For a brief moment, during InterludeThiago steps up and reveals the underlying rhythmic concept which is also the sub-title to this CD. According to the notes, “Disk Tum Derrei is an imitation Thiago performs, vocally, of the Brazilian surdo sound, as played by Escolas de Samba in Brazil. Chorando & sambando are terms related to two of the main genres of Brazilian music: choro and samba.”
This is an interesting and enjoyable recording, one which should be explored both by those who appreciate Brazilian music and those who would like to know more about it. It is part of a large discography which can be explored at thiago-amazon.com, where one can also read his extraordinary biography (He started out as a successful soccer coach! Soccer and music–the essence of Brazil!) Having recently celebrated his 76th birthday it is time Thiago de Mello became an overnight success!
By Chris M. Slawecki
Have you ever walked alone through a quiet beautiful woodland and stepped into an open space full of nothing but warm and growing brightness, and felt like nature was a cathedral and you were seated in its front row? Another Feeling sounds just like that: completely, naturally, immaculate and beautiful.
Dexter Payne on clarinet and alto saxophone creates this Feeling with writer/arranger Thiago de Mello on acoustic piano, guitar and “organic percussion, handmade instruments personally crafted from gourds, sticks, seeds, shells and other scraps from nature. No bassist, no drummer. The idea, says de Mello, was to avoid the traditional setup of piano, bass and drums combined with a horn.
Clarinet as lead instrument often lends a quaint air. “Tal Como O Vinho, moves with elegant and relaxed grace into a three-way dance among acoustic percussion, clarinet and piano, a miniature melody small in scope but not stature. “Kimbolian Dawn, written to showcase pianist Richard Kimball, pounces with the sunny bounce of ragtime. (I smiled more than once at thinking, “Now we know the sound of Benny Goodman jamming after hours at a piano lounge in Rio… ) Yet when Payne switches to alto saxophone to lead “What About That, his crisp, articulate swing echoes the Paul Desmond classic “Take Five.
Composed by de Mello as “sort of an answer to Jobim’s ‘One Note Samba,’ “Two Good Notes swings upon piano and guitar as delicate and bright as the promise of a new dawn. “A Hug For Gil Evans, in memory of de Mello’s friendship with Evans, forged through their shared affection for Brazilian music, opens with a native vocal chant before twirling between percussion, clarinet and spellbinding piano by Haroldo Mauro, Jr.
Vocalist Ithamara Koorax also lends her angelic voice. In the title track, she rings in the dawn as supremely bright as a streaming ray of morning sunshine, and she transforms “An Evening Prayer into a reverent piece that seems precisely that. Her turns in “The Exile Song and “Urumutum/Swing Low Sweet Chariot are just as gorgeous.
Published: January 3, 2007
by Jon Jackson
I’ve been listening to Another Feeling. It really grows on you. I’m just terrifically impressed with the whole production. I think it is probably the recording of the year for me. I liked it from the start… But when I listened to it I was more and more taken with it, until finally I was listening to it every day. Right now, I think my favorite piece is the title piece, especially Korman’s bluesy piano. But the whole record is deeply satisfying. I will probably have a new “favorite” piece next week.
I love that low register clarinet. But, as always, I’m especially pleased by the alto. It is great the way you can swing with such casual gentleness. That seems like a Brazilian thing, to me — to be so relaxed and low-key, yet play with such intensity. I really enjoy the formation of those improvisations. But then, I’ve always enjoyed the way you tell musical stories.
Next week … with Terry Conrad, I’m devoting most of the show to early Sonny Rollins, from the `50s into the late `60s. But I think I’ll spend some time playing Another Feeling. I think the folks need to know more about this great record. Ithamara Koorax has a great voice, great style …Thiago has a great spirit; you two [Thiago and Dexter] are well matched.
Jon Jackson, writer/commentator, Missoula, MT
(Hear Jon Jackson on kufm.org:”Jazz Sessions” 2-4pm the last Thurs of every month.)
“Fabulous CD… You guys are really doing some sweet stuff.” – Mike Marshall
“…winning subtlety, fitting together like pieces of an intricate, intimate puzzle… the Brazilian whispers, and not just the carnival clamor.” – Missoula Independent
“Antonio is one of the formost examples of the huge talent which naturally flows from the Brasilian musician. I was absolutely moved by his recording with the American clarinetist Dexter Payne. The pieces on this CD reflect his maturity as a composer and instrumentalist.” – Sergio Assad
“Relaxing and intellectual at the same time, ‘Inspiration’ might remind some American ears of the classic Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd collaboration, ‘Jazz Samba’.” –Bret Saunders, Denver Post
“Dexter Payne, a clarinetist with beautiful sonority, fascinating fluency and – for the general astonishment of those who still think that ‘Americans cannot swing playing Brasilian rhythms’ – he proves otherwise with his own incredible mischievous phrasing. To define him as a mixture of Artie Shaw and Severino Araujo would be no exaggeration whatever…A work of the highest level… feats of three wise men, united by their passion for the music.” – Arnaldo DeSouteiro (liner notes)
The Dexter Payne Quartet
While metal aligns itself nicely with Missoula’s winters, Brazilian roots music is the best means of escape. On Pra Voce, the Dexter Payne Quartet serves up nine songs from dance-party-style forró to samba. “Alma Brasileria” feels like a brisker, lighter version of Charles Trenet’s “Boum.” Payne’s clarinet propels the song forward like the current of a river while drummer Raoul Rossiter punctuates the fluid melody with swift, ticking rhythms.
“Chorinho Pra Voce” would be a good song for an outdoor dance club under a summer night’s sky. You could lose yourself in it, especially with just enough fresh fruit cocktails. “Doce de Coco,” with the romantic purr of Dave Willey’s accordion, Payne’s willful trilling and the warm plucking of Bill Kopper’s guitar strings, is perfect for a final stroll alongside a lantern-lit river. Maybe you take off your shoes and let your feet feel the grass. See? It’s like a fever when you start listening to this album—the way summer gets in the brain. By the time you get to the final song, “Lembrei do Ceara,” you’ll be contemplating a plane ticket to the Southern hemisphere.
Tootin’ his own horn: Former Hamilton musician recognized in jazz readers poll
- By ROD DANIEL Staff Reporter Dec 28, 2004
Dexter Payne has been called a consummate musician and is a talented jazz artist with clarinet, saxophone and harmonica. File photoAlmost a decade after embarking on what would become a two-and-a-half year musical sojourn through Central and South America, one of the founding members of the Big Sky Mudflaps is getting some well-deserved recognition for his horn playing.
Jazz man Dexter Payne was named the eighth most popular clarinetist in Downbeat magazine’s 69th annual readers poll. Downbeat, according to its Web site, has served as the book of record for the jazz world for 68 years and, according to Payne, is the preeminent jazz magazine all over the world.
Payne lived and played in the Bitterroot Valley for more than 20 years before leaving in 1995 on a musical journey south to Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and, ultimately, Brazil. Since returning to the U.S. in 1998, he has lived and worked in his hometown of Boulder, Colo., where he continues playing clarinet, saxophone and harmonica both in live bands and in the recording studio.
Appearing in the Downbeat readers poll, he said, is especially gratifying because of the other musicians on the list.
“I find myself in pretty staggering company,” Payne said Monday in a phone interview. “There’s people below me on the list who can play circles around me, and some of my biggest idols didn’t even make the list.”
The Downbeat ranking is one consequence of Payne’s latest CD, “Inspiration” which he recorded in 1997 in Manaus, Brazil, with composer and guitarist Antonio Mello and organic percussionist Thiago de Mello. Released in the U.S. about a year ago, “Inspiration” was recently placed on the entry list for a Grammy nomination in the “Best Contemporary World Album” category.
With 119 albums vying for five nominations, Payne said the chances of getting nominated for a Grammy are “pretty slim.” In fact, last week he found out “Inspiration” did not make the final five.
“I was hopeful but not holding my breath,” he said about the likelihood of landing a Grammy nomination. “I just consider it a great honor to have been in the running.”
Local jazz bass player Donald Maus, a professional musician for the last 32 years, called Downbeat magazine “the bible of jazz” and said seeing his friend’s name in the readers poll was a welcome surprise, especially given the fact that Payne hails from Colorado.
“If you look at the list, most of the musicians are from the east or west coasts,” Maus said. “So he’s in pretty good company. It just shows Dexter has the approval of the people.”
Describing Payne as the consummate musician, Maus said it’s a privilege to play with him every time he comes to town, usually once or twice a year.
“Dexter is an extremely talented, very lyrical player,” Maus said. “He’s very sensitive to the other musicians.
“One great thing about Dexter is he doesn’t stand still for very long, if you know what I mean.”
Though jazz is his true love, Payne’s acclaim as a horn player transcends musical genres. In just the last month he’s played African, Balkan, Latin and American music. And this week Payne said he has musical gigs lined up every night.
“Tonight (Monday) I have a big band gig in Denver,” he said, “and tomorrow I’m in the studio with the Gypsy Swing Review. Wednesday I’ll drive to Breckenridge to play with a jazz trio. Thursday I’m playing in a blues band, and on New Years Eve I’m actually playing with two bands.”
Next Monday, Payne is flying to New York to begin recording another CD with Brazilian percussionist Thiago de Mello.
“We’ll have two different piano players, one American and one Brazilian,” he said. “The four of us will make our recordings, and then we’ll send them to Brazil where Brazilian singers will add their tracks.”
Payne hopes for the CD to be released within the next year. In the mean time, “Inspiration” will soon be available at the Music Box in Hamilton and is currently sold at Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula.
The exciting thing about appearing in Downbeat’s readers poll, Payne said, is it gives him the opportunity to book more musical gigs, which is the name of the game if you’re a professional musician with no “straight” job on the side.
Last week, with magazine in hand, Payne walked into Denver’s premier jazz hot spot, the Dazzle Supper Club, and booked a February 17 gig for the Dexter Payne Quartet, a newly named Brazilian-style band. That never would have happened, he said, without the acclaim of being named in Downbeat.
“So I guess I have two thoughts about appearing in Downbeat,” he said. “One, it makes me want to practice more, and two, it makes it possible for me to get more work.”