Artist Spotlight: Carl Payne

Carl Payne is man of few words. He’s direct, humble and kind. He’s also a solid trumpeter and has taken on the difficult task of running a Big Band. This is no small endeavor and we in Columbia, SC are lucky to have him around. I had the pleasure of booking his band at the Main Street Public House a few times and they put on wonderful programs.

Inspired by the jazz music of the early Swing Era of the ’30s and ’40s, Carlton Payne Jr. founded the Carl Payne Big Band. He cultivated his love for music through his studies at The Navy School Of Music, South Carolina State University and the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Carlton Payne Jr. is a retired Marine Corp Band Trumpeter and Combat Veteran from St. Petersburg, Florida.

Let’s see what he has to say…

What is your earliest memory of developing a love for jazz music?
1959 in St.Petersburg, Fl.

Where did you study music?
Navy school of music,Norfolk,Va, South Carolina State University and Berklee school of music

Is there a story behind your latest composition or recording? Where can we find it?
In the process of making a CD

How long have you been performing in Columbia?
Since 1997.

What other cities, states, and countries have you played in and how do those experiences compare with Columbia, SC?
Having been in the Marines Corps Band I have played all over the country as well as aboard, but I spent over 20 years in Massachusetts I played a wealth of venues and for audiences who had a greater appreciation of jazz and especially swing.

What is your most memorable experience as an artist?
I hung out with Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard in Boston, Mass

What music genres and/or artists influence your style and approach and why?
R & B, Jazz, John Cotrane, and my high school band director, Reynolds Davis from Charleston, SC and Al Downing

Who is your favorite Jazz artist?
Woody Shaw and Joe Henderson

Who would you give credit to as your mentor(s)?
My high school band director, Reynolds Davis and Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw

What is the best advice you ever received as a musician?
Study and learn music theory, listen to other musicians and practice everyday with purpose

What is some advice or statements you’d like to offer to up-and-coming musicians, your peers, live music venues and/or the community in general?
Even if you have a God given talent to play an instrument or sing, do not limit yourself, learn to read music. Venues should be more diverse in having live music more than a DJ. Parks and Recreations should have a more open method for deciding which groups will perform.

Music is a way of communicating and connecting with people. What are your thoughts on this? What are some ideals and values you’d like to reflect in your music?
As adult musicians I do not think we spend enough time volunteering in the local schools, helping the music teachers and introducing students to our specific genre.

How often do you practice or give time to your craft?

Tell me about your band and how everyone came together or about the musicians you usually play with.
The Carl Payne Big Band (formerly The Blythewood Jazz Orchestra) is comprised people who love to play music – jazz music. The original core of the band consisted of guys who played in South Carolina State College Marching and Jazz Bands (back in the day) and some high school band students, and an array other musicians who wanted to play. We wanted to provide a opportunity for young and aspiring musicians to enhance their “craft”.

Have you ever lost your instrument or gear during travel? Or do you have a funny story from the road or a gig?
No, just some crazy jokes that I cannot recall the punch lines.

What are some ways that we can expose younger generations to Jazz? What are your ideas on how you can help grow the scene?
We encourage young people to practice and play with us. Also, we should look for opportunities to play in schools and even colleges.

What does the Columbia, SC jazz scene do well and what does it need to do better?
I believe it has a good network for sharing who/where jazz is playing, but it lacks open jam sessions.

Carl Payne Big Band