Just when you think there are no pure baritone, jazz influenced singers to entertain with quality, original material, along comes Gregory Porter.
Porter was the 2014 Grammy Best Jazz Vocal Album winner with Liquid Spirit.
Porter is also blessed with a magical baritone, full of emotion and power, but also light and shade.
All songs on Take Me To The Alley save one are original to Porter. He is a melodist. Songs have hooks and maintain a rhythmic focus that can be mesmerizing. They sound of easy days and nights but have an underlying sadness and gravitas. Nothing torchy, just straight talk. Refreshing when sung (and occasionally swung) with such beauty and honesty.
Porter's musical skill may have be honed in San Diego State University music classes (attending on a big football scholarship), but his is a natural skill. Less 'jazzy' than Mark Murphy, but far less corporate than Bublé and the like. Hey, there's room for every one. Porter is just such a pure breath of fresh air.
Like all great musicians, Porter surrounds himself with excellence. He returned to New York City to record Take Me To The Alley with longtime producer Kamau Kenyatta and regular band accompanying. The band includes pianist and music director Chip Crawford, bassist Aaron James, drummer Emanuel Harrold, alto saxophonist Yosuke Sato, and tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. Singer Alicia Olatuja, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and organist Ondrej Pivec also make appearances throughout. Splendid, all.
I'll be heading back to the Grammy album for some more Gregory Porter (it sold over 100,000 albums!) and I'm already looking forward to his next release. Highly recommended.
1. Holding On (Gregory Porter/James John Napier/Guy William Lawrence/Howard John Lawrence)
2. Don't Lose Your Steam (Gregory Porter)
3. Take Me To The Alley (Porter)
4. Day Dream (Gregory Porter/Craig Dawson)
5. Consequence of Love (Porter)
6. In Fashion (Porter)
7. More Than A Woman (Porter)
8. In Heaven (Darlene Andrews)
9. Insanity (Porter)
10. Don't Be A Fool (Porter)
11. Fan The Flames (Porter)
12. French African Queen (Porter)
Blue Note Records