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Live Reviews

SubCulture, Grand Opening

By Published: September 18, 2013
In the audience at the SubCulture performance were none other than acclaimed contemporary pianists Jenny Lin, Hiroko Sasaki and one Fred Hersch. Mr. Kallor has been studying with Mr. Hersch on and off since his days as a student at the New England Conservatory in Boston, more than a decade ago. Today, the relationship between Mr. Kallor and the jazz piano "titan" has "morphed"—as Mr. Kallor puts it—from apprenticeship to the relation of colleagues. For instance, he "sort of fell into being the musical director for his show 'My Coma Dreams,'" said Mr. Kallor. "I've been conducting the ensemble."

Of the aesthetic charms prevalent on Gregg Kallor's "A Single Noon," the use of rests and space is central. "Sometimes letting something breath is just as important as writing something and playing something," explained Mr. Kallor in an interview. "It is an important lesson, giving something the space to breath is more effective and affecting than just a constant chattering of notes" he said "I really wanted to emulate that feeling of spaciousness, there is that feeling you get when you look up at the skyscrapers in the street. It is like looking through the wide angle of a lens; it is a little calmer, more serene." There is a way to drench a written piece of music in mystery without sacrificing a key structure, and Gregg Kallor's music accomplishes just this. While the impressionist music on "A Single Noon" is not atonal, certain movements begin and end in different keys. This allows for the crosspollination of stylistic influences to tinge the final outcome. Of all of the musicians to be on the lookout for, the various projects of Gregg Kallor are sure to please just about any ear and quench the most sophisticated of tastes.

Gregory Porter
Gregory Porter
Gregory Porter
: "There will be no love that's dying here..."

The audience was stomping feet and clapping hands. They chanted call-and-response while gazing excitedly at the performance on the stage. It was a special concert by Grammy-nominated jazz singer, the Los Angeles-born and currently Brooklyn-based Gregory Porter. 41-year-old songwriter and singer, Porter's music is still a throwback and decidedly educational review of more than a century of African American music. This music that Mr. Porter and his band perform is also a sure sign of life for the jazz tradition. The performance on Monday, June 10, opened with the song "Painted on Canvas." Japanese jazz guru, Yosuke Sato, the alto saxophonist was figuratively ablaze, blowing formidable solos with fierce force and kinetic electricity. Personality and pathos defined Sato's performance. The group roster was the same as on Mr. Porter's 2012 record release Be Good. (Blue Note Records) But for the sake of this performance, jazz trumpet star Keyon Harrold
Keyon Harrold

was added to the mix. Harrold did not walk onto the bandstand until the second number of the evening's performance, the driving, almost rock n' roll of "Way to Harlem," originally heard on 2012's Be Good.

"You can't keep me from where I was born/ I was baptized on my daddy's horn..." sang Mr. Porter with a bright smile on his face. This tune was followed by "No Love Dying" another spiritual boogie, "There will be no love that's dying here..." sang Mr. Porter, promising revelations of spiritual bliss and visions of freedom and rhythm. Tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott meshes quite well with the alto blowing of Sato. Sato's solos are inward, energized, personal, whereas Pennicott supplied almost academic responses, sticking to chord tones and carefully displaying a mastery of phrasing as he flew through extended statements.

The next number was a spiritual and rollicking, "Wolf Cry." The lyrics are written from the point of view of a savior who has been sent to Earth to gather the pieces of a young man's broken heart. The rhythm section, the astoundingly talented Chip Crawford on piano, the smooth professional Aaron James on bass and Emanuel Harrold on drums, kicked up a storm of invisible sawdust, challenging the audience in the small performance space to stay seated and not push their chairs aside.

Gregory Porter is a jazz singer, but he draws from an eclectic selection of influence. For this, Porter and his group of the most gifted of musicians (this side of the Delta) are a diamond in the rough. 'Hey Laura' was a special treat, a deeply soulful love song, performed in the style of smooth rhythm and blues played by a classic jazz combo instrumentation, "Hey Laura, it's me" petitions Porter, in an interpretation of John Donne's poem of unrequited love. After this, the traditional spiritual "Free" and "Musical Genocide" brought all the religious ecstasy and cultural sting of an especially moving Sunday morning in church to a Monday evening jazz performance in a display of musical excellence.

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Download jazz mp3 “Army Of The Faithful featuring Gregory Porter” by David Murray / Infinity Quartet