sat 25/11/2017

CD: Gregory Porter - Be Good | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Gregory Porter - Be Good

CD: Gregory Porter - Be Good

Timbral finesse, finely shaded dynamics, clarity of line - the US jazz/soul singer has it all

A conversational flow that sets him apart: Gregory Porter

Just how good is Gregory Porter's Be Good? Put it this way, over the course of a single song Porter can deliver an emotional payload which some jazz wannabes fail to achieve over an entire career. Combining the tropes of jazz and soul in an entirely seamless way, all wrapped up in a fabulously rich baritone, it's an album to relish from start to finish. The oft-made comparisons with the likes of greats such as Nat King Cole and Donny Hathaway appear far from fanciful.

As heard on songs such as “Real Good Hands” and “Our Love” - the latter inspired by the imposing edifice of the Tower of London, as the singer revealed in last year's Q&A on theartsdesk - what really sets Porter apart is the freedom of his phrasing, its conversational flow.

As if the fulsomeness of the voice isn't enough, Porter also possesses a 24-carat gift for composition (nine of the 12 songs are self-penned). To hear him at his very best, head straight for “On My Way to Harlem”, an already canonical-sounding song in which the singer evokes the spirits of Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes and Marvin Gaye. Despite growing up in California and living in Brooklyn, it's clear that Harlem and the legacy of its artistic milieu is one of Porter's key touchstones.

Just as he did on his Grammy-nominated debut Water, the singer signs off with an iconic standard, sung a cappella. Here it's “God Bless the Child”, in which his timbral finesse, finely shaded dynamics and clarity of line make it one of the freshest accounts of this much-recorded song you're likely to hear. In its evocation of mood, its humanity and its beautifully nuanced narrative, you can sense its composer, Billie Holiday, nodding her approval.

Watch Gregory Porter performing "Be Good"

In its evocation of mood and beautifully nuanced narrative, you can sense its composer, Billie Holiday, nodding her approval

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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