Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has always been a fine soloist, but with Into The Blue he proves himself to be a first rate tunesmith, too. Here, Payton's melodies are almost as memorable as his solos, and the one cover -- a reading of Jerry Goldsmith's melancholy theme to Chinatown -- only makes the album stronger. Also, this isn't a band that is into showing off at the expense of the songs. Kevin Hays plays electric Rhodes and acoustic piano and that's Payton himself crooning the lyrics to "Blue," sounding like late-life Chet Baker. One of the best jazz releases of 2008.