Gregory Porter is the hottest new thing to hit the Jazz & Soul scene. Rising to fame with the hit '1960 What?' from the debut album Water, Porter has already collaborated with some of the biggest names in jazz at the moment – Nicolas Conte and The Rongetz Foundation – all in the space of 15 months. Where has this jazz explosion that is Gregory Porter come from?
Gregory Porter grew up in LA where his mother was a minister, beginning his musical career singing in church services. He starred in the original Broadway cast of It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues and following the success of this, went on to establish a solo career with the record label Motéma Music. With the success of his debut album in 2010, Water, Porter went on to be a guest on 'Later…with Jools Holland' and has now collaborated with some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz.
So what is it about this jazz singer that has people desperate to work with him? His distinctive style which incorporates the nostalgic feel of Harlem Gospel works and the new jazz funk era of Roy Hargrove and such, is filling a gap in the jazz genre. Not to mention his beautiful vocals; his songs are a celebration of the music that he has been influenced by and the work which he hopes will come. Notably 1960 What? tells the harrowing tale of Martin Luther King’s death and the subsequent response of his followers in 1960’s America. With such a depressing topic at hand, Porter’s composition of smooth rhythm’s, haunting brass and driving beat makes this song one of power, not of loss. As he says, "Hey the Motor City is burning ya’ll / Burning real bright."
Looking to his other works, singles such as On My Way To Harlem and Be Good from the sophomore album, this theme of power and of love for the music he makes and clearly listens to is, what I think, draws people to him. "You can’t keep me away from where I was born / I was baptised to the sound of horns" – his heart-warming love for the ancestors of his music make him the ultimate jazzman.
Be Good, the second album from Porter is out now, and for a taster check out this video of the song by the same name…