What better way to spend a Sunday evening than listening to the deep soulful baritone vocals of Gregory Porter serenading a sold out den Atelier.
Having recently announced a forthcoming follow up to his 2013 Grammy winning album “Liquid Spirit”, Gregory Porter is back on the road and dazzling audiences once more in preparation for his new album “Take Me to The Alley,” which will be released on May 6th.
Coming onto the stage wearing his trademark black cap, he opened up proceedings with “Holding On” a track he co-wrote with British electro duo Disclosure for their last album. His clever reworking turned this floor filler into a delicate and emotional smooth jazz croon. It wasn’t to be the only track from the upcoming release, as he gave us another glimpse of what to expect with the title track blending in some more smooth jazz.
All night the sound was crystal clear, allowing us to pick out every note which is a joy when you have such talented musicians working the piano, double bass, saxophone and drums. Their feather light touch and restraint in not overpowering Porters vocals is a skill in itself.
The ever sensual double bass started off the intro to the Temptations cover “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” as Porter casually leaned against the grand piano nodding his head and feeling the groove just like everyone else in the venue. As much as it’s Porter’s name on the ticket, the band are every bit as important, each of them taking their own moment in the spotlight throughout the night.
From their up tempo soul to funky jazz, they had it all last night. Porter’s affable personality had the audience in the palm of his hand as the band intermittently delved into solos. The vintage soulful groove continued on “Musical Genocide” as he sang of refusing to sell out, improvising lines declaring that James Brown & Nat King Cole would have been on his side in his struggle for artistry, with the crowd chanting words ‘I do not agree’.
Their restrained style meant no note was wasted, even when they jammed there was never a feeling of it being too much and when vocals such as Porter’s dropped back on top, it all felt so effortless.
The punchy cultural alertness of “1960 What?” combined with its mean groove was a highlight, getting the crowd shuffling along to the double bass whilst the funk groove of “Free” finished off the proceedings, complete with a 10-minute instrumental outro.
In a recent interview Porter said people shouldn’t assume they don’t like jazz and that they should go and see it live, as when it works it’s genius. On last night’s showing he couldn’t have been more spot on, I think you would be hard pushed to find anyone coming away from that show not feeling warm and enriched from the experience.
13/3/16 – den Atelier