Now I first saw Gregory Porter in October 2013 at The Royal Albert Hall when he was the special guest for Natalie Cole as part of the Bluesfest London series. (The live review of this show is available to read on the website now). His voice is so rich and velvety smooth that it just melts like butter. Suffice to say, I purchased his new album ‘Liquid Spirit’ and went to see him live again in Hyde Park at BBC Radio 2 Festival in a Day (live review of this show is on the website as well) and again in December at GLive in Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom where he performed his own headline show. He kindly said hello to the audience afterwards and signed my album. He is a really friendly and cool cat.
I was sorting through my CD collection the other day and I found his album and thought ‘I don’t think I ever reviewed this album.’ Well I know the album has been out a while but I wanted to put that right. The opener ‘No Love Dying’ has subtle brushes on the drums courtesy of Emanuel Harrold and stunning piano from Chip Crawford that just transports you to one of the late shows at Ronnie Scotts in central London or a backstreet jazz club in New York City.
The title track has some fluid double bass from Aaron James and it is a definitely a track you can clap and dance too. Everyone at the Royal Albert Hall in 2013 was on their feet and dancing like crazy. As the song suggests faith is important to Porter as he was raised by his mother Ruth who was a minister and encouraged him to sing in church from a young age.
People like Porter, Charlie Wood, and Jamie Cullum (to name a few) are not only bringing jazz to the music mainstream in terms of radio and chart placement, but they are also helping promote the genre to a younger audience and smashing down preconceptions of jazz being stuffy gentleman’s clubs music. ‘Hey Laura’ is a relatable song for many people with Gregory telling ‘Laura’ that she really loves him and not another guy. The blues guitarist Jonny Lang has a song with a similar theme called ‘Lie To Me’ which on a separate note is a fantastic track. Like a book or film, as a listener I am rooting for the protagonist (Gregory Porter in this case) over the unknown male (antagonist). Cleverly written and well-executed.
‘Musical Genocide’ is Porter’s way of uniting all the genres of music and explaining that people should be able to listen to whatever they like without issue or prejudice. Personally, I think if a ‘musical genocide’ ever were to take place then the world would definitely be a sadder place. The music in ‘Free’ reminds me of a 70s cop show as he sings about his family life with such raw emotion.
The thing is, it’s the individual character of his accompanists and in particular the avant-garde sax forays of Yosuke Sato that makes this album stand out from the mainstream. It’s not just fine singing we have here but a deliberate dynamic backdrop for the varying moods of the tracks. You can play this album in its entirety as it sounds different from the normal jazz album. When he tours the UK in April 2016 that is the perfect time for people to either return to his music or discover it for the first time.
No Love Dying (3:56)
Liquid Spirit (3:36)
Lonesome Lover (3:11)
Water Under Bridges (3:32)
Hey Laura (3:19)
Musical Genocide (3:45)
Brown Grass (4:17)
Wind Song (3:23)
The ‘In’ Crowd (3:37)
When Love Was King (6:52)
I Fall In Love Too Easily (7:47)
Gregory Porter’s new album ‘Liquid Spirit’ is out now on Blue Note.
In addition, Gregory Porter has announced an extensive UK tour for April 2016 at the following venues:
Monday 4th April – Royal Albert Hall, London, United Kingdom
Tuesday 5th April- Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, United Kingdom
Friday 8th April- Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, United Kingdom
Saturday 9th April- Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Sunday 10th April- Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Monday 11th April- His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom
Tuesday 12th April- Perth Concert Hall, Perth, Scotland, United Kingdom
Thursday 14th April- Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Friday 15th April- The Sage, Gateshead, United Kingdom
Saturday 16th April- De Montfort Hall, Leicester, United Kingdom
Sunday 17th April- Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Tuesday 19th April- Brighton Dome, Brighton, United Kingdom
Wednesday 20th April- St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Thursday 21st April- Concert Hall, Poole, United Kingdom
Friday 22nd April- Plymouth Pavilions, Plymouth, United Kingdom
Sunday 24th April- Symphony Hall, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Tickets are available from www.ticketline.co.uk and 0844 888 9991 or from the venues direct
For more information visit: www.gregoryporter.com
(Thanks to Pete Sargeant and Joanne Burns PR for help with this review)