J. Johnson on the Savoy Records label in 1946. During that year he was also began playing with Roy Eldridge, through whom he met Dizzy Gillespie. His earlier recordings would largely fall under the swing category, until Gillespie hired him.
Payne stayed onboard until 1949, heard performing solos on "Ow!" and "Stay On It". In the early 1950s he found himself working with Tadd Dameron, and worked with Illinois Jacquet from 1952 to 1954. He then started freelance work in New York and frequently performed during this period with Randy Weston, whom Payne worked with until 1960. Payne was still recording regularly for Delmark Records in the 1990s, when he was in his seventies, and indeed on into the new millennium. Payne was a cousin of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, whom he recorded with briefly.
Aside from his career in music Payne helped run his father's real estate company during the 1950s. Payne once said that his parents urged him to consider dentistry as a career. He countered their suggestion by pointing out that no one would ever entrust his or her teeth to a "Dr. Payne." Read more on Last.fm.
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