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February 22, 2011
Celebrating Grammy Nomination for his new album 'Water'
8pm show $12
With a voice that can caress or confront, embrace or exhort, Gregory Porter exhibits such an incredible degree of vocal mastery that no less a jazz luminary than Wynton Marsalis has gone on record to call him "a fantastic young singer," which makes the fact that Water (out now from Motema Music) is his recording debut even more impressive.
A debut release it may be, yet Water flows with a sense of timelessness that reflects the seasoned talents of the giants of blues, gospel and soul that have influenced Porter throughout his career. Some of the singers that Porter cites as influential are familiar - Nat King Cole, Joe Williams and Donny Hathaway - and others – such as the pastor of the church he attended as a child among them - may never realize their impact on his development as an artist. While the work of singers such as Hathaway or Cole obviously helped to shape Porter’s vocal styling, his own world view, as evidenced in his seven original compositions and his striking interpretation of classic songs such as "But Beautiful" and "Skylark," adds an emotional intensity that makes each of the CD's eleven tracks speak so eloquently.
For the recording, Porter tapped a powerful cadre of strong players, among them the iconic alto sax player James Spaulding (Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson, et al) who plays a featured role on two tracks: “Wisdom” and “Black Nile.” The CD was produced by saxophonist, pianist and composer Kamau Kenyatta, who Porter refers to as his "best friend."
Born in Los Angeles, raised in Bakersfield, and now living in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, Gregory Porter has made the world his musical home. A frequent guest performer with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Porter also maintains a long-standing residency at Harlem's venerable St. Nick's Pub, and performs internationally. "I've been to Russia about 17 times," says Porter. "I now can make a mean borscht."