Several encouraging visits with R&B legends Steve Cropper, Al Jackson and Albert King at the world famous Stax studios in Memphis inspired Jim to expand his goals and begin writing and producing as well. "I was always interested in music that touched the heart and soul directly and immediately," he recalls, "the stuff that made the most direct hit."
In the early '80s he founded the avant funk group Slickaphonics with Ray Anderson. The group self-produced five albums for Enja and Teldec touring extensively in the United States and Europe.
In 1988, Jim moved to Florida and wrote and produced for King Snake Studios, working with artists such as Rufus Thomas, Razzy Bailey and Gregg Allman.
Two major productions he completed in Florida were the JB Horns' Pee Wee, Fred and Maceo (Gramavision) and Mike Clark and Paul Jackson's The Funk Stops Here (enja/Tiptoe). Continuing along the producing path, Payne returned to New York. He then produced and frequently performed on albums for Enja Records, TDK/Core Japan, Tokuma Japan and Gramavision.
He emerged as one of the more sophisticated producers on the soul, funk and jazz scenes, numbering among his credits production of albums by : Medeski, Martin & Wood It's a Jungle In Here , and Friday Afternoon in the Universe (Gramavision); JB Horns Funky Good Time, Live (Gramavision); Pee Wee Ellis' Blues Mission (Gramavision); David Fiuczynski and John Medeski's Lunar Crush (Gramavision); Jim Payne's New York Funk Vol.1. (Gramavision); and Yvonne Jackson's I'm Trouble (Enja/Blues Beacon).
In the past two years Jim has concentrated on playing, writing and touring with his own band, The Jim Payne Band, a funky organ trio, with Jerrry Z on organ and Bill Bickford on guitar. They have played several US tours and are a staple on the NYC club scene. Jim's first record, Sensei, reached #33 on the jazz charts. He is also very busy teaching in his NYC studio.