Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Gregory Porter - Water


Last night's Later With Jools Holland played host to a cameo by Gregory Porter with a fuller sampling to be aired on Friday's lengthier version, or you can access a BBC online offering of Jools and Gregory rehearsing together.

Porter is an imposing figure - he had a college scholarship as a linebacker - and his voice is the significant part of that presence. The album Water is a wonderful collection of jazz standards and self-penned tracks like '1960 What?' which evokes civil rights unrest in 60s Detroit and, on a wider arc, the killing of Martin Luther King: it is more soul vocal than jazz and its politically charged narrative is delivered over 12 minutes of hypnotic thrust and repetition.

Opener 'Illusion' establishes Porter's fine jazz vocal, and the subsequent 'Pretty' introduces the scatting - only an occasional feature - that echoes Kurt Elling, as well as instrumental support from a collection of excellent musicians including saxophonist James Spaulding.

Another self-penned song, the title track 'Water', presents Porter's craft as lyricist with its metaphoric thread, and the album finishes as it should on an acappella performance of the standard 'Feeling Good', sealing the vocal imposition of this big and talented artist.

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