GREGORY PORTER, BE GOOD


Singer/songwriter Gregory Porter has made the great jazz vocal album of 2012 with his sophomore recording, “Be Good,” an intoxicating mix of storytelling and elegant musicianship, sprinkled with Motown backbeats and fleet horn arrangements by Kamau Kenyatta. Porter, whose debut, “Water” (Motema, 2010) was nominated for a Grammy®, started out singing in jazz clubs in college, later creating a one-man theatrical tribute to Nat King Cole and eventually ending up on Broadway in “It Ain’t Nothing But The Blues.” That performance background is evident when you listen to Porter’s tunes; the songs on “Be Good” are structured as narratives, taking up residence in your head, and you’re happily struck by how hummable, soulful and memorable they are. Credit veteran producer Brian Bacchus (Norah Jones) who frames Porter with right-on accompaniment – pianist Chip Crawford, bassist Aaron James and drummer Emanuel Harrold hold down the brilliant rhythm section -- and essentially lets Porter do his thing.



Porter definitely accentuates the positive and his hearty singing style evokes Bill Withers’ soulful endeavors. On “Real Good Hands,” he infuses a story about new romance with a bluesy cadence and again on the title track, “Be Good (Lion’s Song),” a parable about beauty and seduction set in ¾ time. But it’s the fabulously catchy love letter “On My Way To Harlem” where Porter pulls out the stops and salutes heroes like Duke, Langston Hughes and Marvin Gaye, complete with a rubbery bassline, tick-tock percussion, and punchy horns. It’s a song that shows why Porter is boundless by genre and subject matter; he can soothe (“Painted on Canvas”) or inspire (“Mother’s Song”), but Porter always moves you with his righteous lyrics and 
gentleman’s croon. (12 tracks; 62:09 minutes)    

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JAZZ IN SPACE: GREGORY PORTER, BE GOOD

Friday, February 24, 2012

GREGORY PORTER, BE GOOD


Singer/songwriter Gregory Porter has made the great jazz vocal album of 2012 with his sophomore recording, “Be Good,” an intoxicating mix of storytelling and elegant musicianship, sprinkled with Motown backbeats and fleet horn arrangements by Kamau Kenyatta. Porter, whose debut, “Water” (Motema, 2010) was nominated for a Grammy®, started out singing in jazz clubs in college, later creating a one-man theatrical tribute to Nat King Cole and eventually ending up on Broadway in “It Ain’t Nothing But The Blues.” That performance background is evident when you listen to Porter’s tunes; the songs on “Be Good” are structured as narratives, taking up residence in your head, and you’re happily struck by how hummable, soulful and memorable they are. Credit veteran producer Brian Bacchus (Norah Jones) who frames Porter with right-on accompaniment – pianist Chip Crawford, bassist Aaron James and drummer Emanuel Harrold hold down the brilliant rhythm section -- and essentially lets Porter do his thing.



Porter definitely accentuates the positive and his hearty singing style evokes Bill Withers’ soulful endeavors. On “Real Good Hands,” he infuses a story about new romance with a bluesy cadence and again on the title track, “Be Good (Lion’s Song),” a parable about beauty and seduction set in ¾ time. But it’s the fabulously catchy love letter “On My Way To Harlem” where Porter pulls out the stops and salutes heroes like Duke, Langston Hughes and Marvin Gaye, complete with a rubbery bassline, tick-tock percussion, and punchy horns. It’s a song that shows why Porter is boundless by genre and subject matter; he can soothe (“Painted on Canvas”) or inspire (“Mother’s Song”), but Porter always moves you with his righteous lyrics and 
gentleman’s croon. (12 tracks; 62:09 minutes)    

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