Gregory Porter -[|]- Be Good -(MP3)- [Motéma Music, 2012 | Review]
From the beginning, vocalist Gregory Porter emerged on the music scene in 2010 with one of the most talked about debut recordings in recent memory to eventually land at the number position on both iTunes and Amazon in the U.K. with his soulful and inspiring debut titled “Water” on Motéma Music. In the present tense, songwriter and vocalist extraordinaire Gregory Porter promptly returns with his incomparable lyrical bravado to masterfully uncover another brilliant and tasteful portrait of great songs on “Be Good” produced by the Brian Bacchus.
With his sophomore effort in the works, Porter summon veteran producer Brian Bacchus to the studio to add his touch to eleven of the twelve songs on “Be Good.” Bacchus has many successes to his credit including Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Lizz Wright along with a host of others. Accompanying Porter on this project is his working band featuring: the incredible Chip Crawford [piano], Aaron James on [bass], Emanuel Harrold plays drums along with Kamau Kenyatta and Yosuke Sato on saxophones. Also guest appearances by Keyon Harrold on trumpet and Tivon Pennicott on tenor horn.
Initially being seduced by the versatility exemplified on his debut “Water,” I knew it was only a matter of time before Porter would return with another equally appetizing offering. His limpid and heartfelt musings are picturesque. His songwriting is playful, colorful and enticing while anchored to his fresh interpretations of classics shape the relevance of his amazing yet recognizable voice.
In the meantime, once delved into the warmth of this magical moment by the son of a single mother I suddenly found myself baptized in the intimacy of his lyrically stimulating tonality which is authenticated through the voice of his persona on the opener “Painted on Canvas” is an amazing song to get things rolling. Therefore, this gem coupled with savvy songwriting incorporates his suave vocal approach is nothing short of soothing, vibrant and focused while adorned in threads of greatness reminds us that he no doubt is here to stay with the release of “Be Good.”
To no surprise, each song here unveils a spirit sprouting with vast emotion lavished with fruitful details rarely epitomized in lyrics today. Porter cleverly articulates each phrase, note and melody with anticipated warmth accentuated on the sophisticated title piece “Be Good.”
The groovy “On My Way to Harlem,” exudes with vibrancy, swagger and elegance painted with bright anointed colors and textures on canvas of Porter’s fervent signature pays tribute to two of the Harlem renaissance figures of our time Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes and the legendary Marvin Gaye once grace the streets of nearby spots like St. Nick’s Pub where Porter’s working band currently performs.
From the onset, I was literally blown away by the soulful “Real Good Hands,” (reminiscent of Lou Rawls) this captivating gem is the ultimate manifestation of love expressed by him. Porter delicately approaches this song with his willingness to openly definite his passion for the love of his life with conviction asking his future in-laws for their approval in a gallant way.
For the naysayers, Porter’s remains in the storyteller mode and swings with authority on “Bling Bling,” he solidifies the virturosity of his fascinating style by echoing the chambers of his predecessors by scatting with tenacity. Obviously dedicated to the groove, Porter continues his scroll in the park with the bluesy “Work Song.” His unpretentious comrades labor effortlessly to sustain their provocative voices within the framework of each song throughout.
With this recording, I found myself amassed in the body of “Be Good” which Porter poignant touch confidently illuminates the elements of love, hope, romance, dreams, emotion, admiration and convictions are sentimentally underscored through the vessel of his vocal prowess. Through the vision of his musicality Gregory Porter is rapidly establishing himself not only a powerful new voice in jazz, but he also confirms that he is undoubtedly the real deal with unbridled staying power in the realm of pop, soul and gospel as well.
Reviewed by Rob Young | Urban Flux Media