The delectable Catwoman and I took ourselves off to see the supremely talented Gregory Porter in Harrogate on Saturday night. Without a doubt he is an incredibly talented singer. If you see him as ‘just’ a jazz singer then you need to think again, yes he is very much in the jazz field but this guy also oozes soul and he can sing gospel and blues. His band is incredible and could easily work as an instrumental band in their own right. But when you add Mr Porter’s voice to the magical sounds the band produce you have a perfect mix.
Until tonight I had only really heard the songs from his ‘Liquid Spirit’ album. I hadn’t appreciated that this was his third album! Gregory is also a very talented songwriter. My particular favourites are “Liquid Spirit”, “Water Under Bridges”, “Hey Laura”, “Free” and “Wolfcry”. The pianist Chip Crawford is an incredible pianist and his playing reminded me at times of Mike Garson. In the extended intro to “Wolfcry” Chip slotted in a piece from ‘Peter And The Wolf’ and the ‘Star Wars Theme‘. Ithink my favourite song of the whole show was “1960 What?” from his first album ‘Water’
Listening to Gregory and his band I was reminded of my days of being a soul boy and heavily into jazz funk in the late 70s. His vocals have a hint of Marvin Gaye about them and the overall sound of Mr Porter and his band was for me reminiscent of Roy Ayers, Norman Connors, the Blackbyrds and especially Gil Scott Heron. I will definitely see Gregory Porter again if the opportunity arises. On top of his immense talent he comes across as a very gracious and humble man. He clearly has great respect for his band; Chip Crawford (piano), Aaron James (double bass), Emanuel Harrold (drums) and Yosuke Sato (Sax). I think the feel-good-factor injected from this gig will stay with me for quite a while.
As often happens I will end this post with a public service announcement. It is probably obvious, but none of the pictures or videos in this post were taken or filmed by me!
Like your good self I found myself in Harrogate last Saturday night after caving in the to the mrs’ demands for a night out. A couple of bottles of prosecco and a moment of flagrant credit card abuse…we had two tickets to see the big fella! I was apprehensive and Mrs b was past herself with excitement.
As things turned out….those feelings of apprehension were totally unfounded. What I discovered, to my total surprise was the man has natural, god given, truly blessed, call it what you will…talent for ‘hardcore’ jazz.
His range and ability to hold an unwavering note at the bottom of the register is admirable. At the top end (with the aid of getting on the balls of his feet) he is powerful and pitch perfect.
All this talent is gilded further by the support of an amazing group of musicians around him. Quite frankly they deserve to be credited on an equal footing with mr porter for their massively energetic delivery. The drummer was tight, bass was reminiscent (in places) of Stanley Clarke, chip Crawford brought a smile to my face with his refined Dudley Moore
phrasing and young mr sato was quite supreme in his coltranesk art, although there were one or two moments of gratuitous showboating.
Magnificent in delivery and entertainment value for ardent jazz fan! Recommended….of course!
I too after a couple of bottles of prosecco which resulted in some flagrant credit card abuse found myself in possession of two tickets for said concert. I was somewhat apprehensive having only been exposed to mr porters output through radio 2. Mrs b however was somewhat excited at the prospect of an evening out and a little culture.
However, my apprehension soon melted away as I was engulfed in a sonorous pleasure as never before. Mr Gregory Porter who was touched by God delivered an evening of note and lyrical perfection. Supported (although an equal billing would be appropriate here) by his quartet of supremely talented musicians.
Chip Crawford brought a smile to my face with Dudley Moore style phrasing and interpretation, bass player was reminiscent of Stanley Clarke, drums were tight and sax player mr sato was magnificent, ney…coltranesk at times, to the point of indulgence leading to a little showboating at times.
It turns out Gregory Porter is quite ‘hardcore’ and any jazz purist can feel comfortable in his presence.
Five men with supreme talent. Encore!