Nicholas Payton & New World Order feat. Sasha Masakowski and Cliff Hines
As a leading voice in American popular music, the Grammy Award-winning Nicholas Payton is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, producer, arranger, essayist, and social activist who defies musical and artistic categories. All the while, he honors the tradition of what he terms “postmodern New Orleans music,” as well as the spirit of Black American Music, of which he states, “There are no fields, per se. There are lineages.”
The New Orleans-born Payton has followed his calling since growing up under the tutelage of his parents — acclaimed bassist Walter Payton and Maria Payton, a pianist and vocalist. Already a prodigy before entering the first grade, he began playing trumpet at age four and started performing professionally at age 10. Before the age of 20, he was already in demand by everyone from Danny Barker and Clark Terry to Elvin Jones and Marcus Roberts. Payton released his first album, From this Moment, in 1995 on the famed Verve label. He received his first Grammy nomination in 1997 for the album Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton, and for the category of Best Instrumental Solo, which found him winning the award that year.
Payton has released over 20 recordings as a leader, pushing musical boundaries and showcasing a variety of contemporary and traditional styles, while displaying his ambidextrous ability to play both the trumpet and keyboard at the same time when he’s inspired to do so. He has collaborated with numerous mentors and contemporaries alike, ranging from Common and Cassandra Wilson to Trey Anastasio, MonoNeon, and Jill Scott, to Dr. John, Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste of The Meters, Allen Toussaint, and Abbey Lincoln to name a few. His most recent albums are Quarantined with Nick and Maestro Rhythm King, both released in 2020.
In addition to Payton’s work as a performer, he is an equally respected composer, having written The Black American Symphony an orchestral work, which the Czech National Symphony Orchestra commissioned and performed. He led a live concert performance of Miles Davis’ renowned Sketches of Spain with the Basel Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland.“Pretty much all the music that I play is centered in Black culture, Black music. And that’s why I’ve eschewed jazz and came up with the terminology, Black American Music, because I want to be connected to the whole of it,” Payton says about genre.
As a leader, he termed Black American Music, or #BAM for short, to represent the breadth of improvisational musical creations created by Black people in the U.S., regardless of genre. His introduction of #BAM into the lexicon of popular music discourse landed him an entry in the New York Times‘ “The Decade in Jazz: 10 Definitive Moments” in 2019“. Through his mission-driven work and art, Payton continues to creatively move boundaries, while inspiring and remaining inspired by the pioneering lineage of Black American Music, of which he is a part.
Sasha Masakowski, daughter of jazz guitar luminary Steve Masakowski, was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and has been a leading artist on the New Orleans music scene for many years as a vocalist, composer and producer.
Sasha was listed as one of 12 jazz artists to watch in 2019 by Paste Magazine, Offbeat Magazine calls her “One of the brightest young talents in the Big Easy,” Vanity Fair Magazine recently listed Sasha as one of the top jazz musicians in the world and December 2015 issue of Downbeat Magazine named Sasha among the most innovative musicians coming out of New Orleans to date.
Between 2017 and 2019, Sasha has headlined major clubs and festivals across the United States and abroad, such as the legendary Blue Note (NYC), Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai, Cotton Club Tokyo, Jazz Standard (NYC), Detroit Jazz Festival, SF Jazz Center (San Francisco), Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Bird’s Basement (Melbourne) San Jose Jazz Festival, Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum, and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, among others.
Sasha’s approach to music is as playful, charismatic, and spontaneous as her personality. Her influences draw from jazz to electronic music to rock and she performs frequently in fully improvised settings to help cultivate her exotic style. Sasha has earned a reputation internationally as a daring, fearless improviser and a charming interpreter, working often alongside other progressive, genre-defying musicians such as Nicholas Payton, Jason Lindner, Zach Danziger, Adonis Rose, Cliff Hines and Aurora Nealand to name a few.
While Sasha still stands as one of the most prominent voices on the New Orleans music scene, she recently relocated to Brooklyn, NY, where she continues to earn a reputation as a ingenious improviser, composer and performer. She currently leads two bands of her own that range from New Orleans modern jazz (Art Market) to electronic art-rock (Tra$h Magnolia). Sasha released her latest album Art Market to critical acclaim.
Cliff Hines is one of the leading voices in progressive music in New Orleans. His compositions defy categorization and seamlessly blend genres to create his own unique sound. His mastery over electronics allows him to manipulate his guitar in creative ways, also lending to his identifiable style. Despite his young age, he has been performing in New Orleans for over 15 years (since landing a weekly gig at the Funky Butt at age 12) and has over 10 years of teaching experience. He has toured nationally and internationally both with his own band and as a sideman for such artists as Rickie Lee Jones, Christian Scott, Mike Dillon, Sasha Masakowski, Gravity A, Khris Royal, and Aurora Nealand.
Hines’s first two records as a bandleader were released under his own name. Like Mystics of Old featured a fusion of electronic experimentation with pop sensibility. One song from that record, “Pastels”, earned lots of attention online for a live performance art music video in which the band functions as a blank canvas that is turned into a “living painting.” Cliff’s sophomore release, Wanderlust, draws more influence from folk and world music in combination with subtle electronics to create cinematic electro-acoustic soundscapes. “Dresden” had the lone music video from that record, an dark animated piece by Tahnee Gehm, which was showcased at various film festivals in Europe. Another song from that record, “Interzone”, would later be covered by Jason Marsalis for his 2014 album 21st Century Trad Band (Basin St Records)
In 2015, he and longtime collaborator Sasha Masakowski released the debut album for their new band, Hildegard, which was their first album to feature original songs from both composers. They are currently working on releasing a follow-up EP. Cliff also just released the debut EP for his electronic solo project KLYPH on May 25th 2018. In addition to these projects, he also has an improvised electronic rock project with Hildegard drummer G Maxwell Zemanovic entitled the HZ Duo which has released several live bootlegs and will soon release their debut album.
Cliff gained some local notoriety for a series of Tribute shows he did in 2010 & 2011 (Bowie, Prince, and Radiohead respectively) which featured an all-star cast of musicians from the various New Orleans music scenes. In 2014 he was asked by Gravity A to play the role of David Byrne for a Talking Heads Tribute. Their Talking Heads Tribute was very well received, with many saying Hines’s frenetic energy was the best imitation of Byrne they had seen. Gravity A and Hines would later pay tribute to Pink Floyd’s 1977 album “Animals”. These performances helped many see him not only as a sideman and guitarist but a solid frontman as well leading to nominations in 2016 for both Best Male Performer (Big Easy Awards / Gambit Weekly) and Best Guitarist (Best of the Beat / Offbeat Magazine)