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THE CAL PAYNE PROJECT: Bio

For Cal Payne, it truly is all about the music. Far beyond the cliché and deeper than a casual flirtation with melody and sound, Cal Payne is a player to his core. With a jazz/instrumental style that combines elements of R&B, latin, fusion jazz, and rock, his performance and presence invokes a combination of Grover Washington Jr. and Santana. Driven by an unceasing desire to compose and perform, he is most alive when engaged in the emotional and spiritual experience of making music. Music: this is the essence of the Cal Payne Project.

Born into the sonic assault and excitement of Brooklyn, NY, Cal Payne first expressed his passionate love of music as a vocalist at age 4. However, the jarring effects of adolescence made singing a frustrating challenge, and he became drawn to express himself as an instrumental player. Clarinet first occupied his hands at age 12, and then tenor saxophone at 14 and alto sax several years later. Keyboards joined his already impressive collection of skills at 18, with bass guitar and soprano saxophone not far behind. As his skills and talent grew, so did his passion and instinct, and from a young age it was clear that he was a thoughtful and passionate musician.

Among several qualities that distinguished him then, and continue to set him apart now, is a fascinating hybrid of technique and style due to his never having taken formal music lessons. The unique optimism and perception of music that is found in self-taught players marks his approach to music with an attention to what music can do and how many ways it can be approached. The result is a bold and unconventional improvisation style that goes for the guts and doesn’t hold back or play it safe, yet not at the cost of his connection with his audience. His performances are known to be accessible and evocative for the listeners while complex and challenging for those who seek to learn and perform with him.

After several years of developing and sharing his music in live performance, Cal Payne has set his sound down on record in The Cal Payne Project. This debut album presents the energy and vision of Payne’s fusion sound and certifies his credentials as a tireless, impeccable performer. The Cal Payne Project features a diverse group of musicians who have been playing with Payne since 2004, including his long-time musical partners Steve Crumpton on bass guitar and Michael Burke on acoustic and electric guitars, and with drums/percussion from Mark Manczuk and piano/keyboards from Jerome Korman. Together they literally played through the storm, blazing through their recording sessions amidst the dead of Winter snow storms at Bennett Studios in Englewood, New Jersey under the guidance of multiple Grammy Award-winner Dae Bennett. Son of the legend Tony Bennett, Dae’s credits include his father’s recent Christmas album and comedian/banjo aficionado Steve Martin’s 2009 Grammy Award-winning bluegrass album The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo. The strength of this exceptional creative team and Payne’s innovative composition and improvisation style made The Cal Payne Project a striking debut.

Now with The Cal Payne Project released, he has his sights set on the stage, and on his future, from his home base of New York City. Whether on record or in live performance, Cal Payne is a singular musical experience. Not only singular in being inventive and open to the possibilities of how music might inhabit a moment, but singular in focus. Singular in intent. There is one reality there, one truth. Cal Payne really is all about the music.