All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

95

Gregory Porter: Be Good

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Debut albums often serve as fine introductions to the work of fledgling artists with potential for greater things, but that wasn't the case with Gregory Porter's Water (Motéma, 2010). Porter's debut, which was nominated for a Grammy Award, presented a vocal soul-jazz juggernaut that seemingly materialized out of thin air as a fully matured musical entity. His early experiences working in small San Diego clubs and singing in Off-Broadway and Broadway productions in New York helped Porter to establish himself as a vocal talent who doesn't merely sing songs but, rather, inhabits different personae delivering messages through music.

On Water, Porter showed that he was capable of shifting from politically charged fire and brimstone ("1960 What?") to soothing serenades ("But Beautiful"), demonstrating an extraordinary range in style and sentiment. He continues to branch out in various directions on Be Good, his highly anticipated sophomore effort. The album opens with the emotionally engaging "Painted On Canvas," and, on the title track, pianist Chip Crawford delivers dainty piano work, reflecting the "dancing" references in Porter's lyrics. Porter sings with Bill Withers-style bona fides on "Real Good Hands," as he convincingly explains to in-laws- to-be that he looks up to them and that their daughter will be taken care of. He exhibits a "flower power" attitude of peace and love as he marries jazz, soul and folk attributes on "Mother's Song," a tribute to his mother.

While the emphasis is squarely placed on Porter's own music—he penned nine out of the twelve tunes—the album ends with a double shot of classic jazz. Porter lets loose on a stirring version of Nat Adderley's "Work Song," which features strong solo spots from saxophonists Yosuke Sato and Tivon Pennicott. The album ends with a mellow, a cappella take of "God Bless The Child."

Porter presents various facets of his personality throughout the album, but the jubilant "On My Way To Harlem" best explains his artistry. In name checking the divine artistic triptych of Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, and Marvin Gaye, Porter essentially outlines his own design as a soulful jazz poet. If Water heralded the arrival of the next big name in vocal jazz, then Be Good makes it clear that Porter still has plenty to say. Be Good is beyond great and he's here to stay.

Track Listing: Painted On Canvas; Be Good (Lion's Song); On My Way To Harlem; Real Good Hands; The Way You Want To Live; When Did You Learn; Imitation Of Life; Mother's Song; Our Love; Bling Bling; Work Song; God Bless The Child.

Personnel: Gregory Porter: vocals; Chip Crawford: piano (1-11); Aaron James: bass (1-6, 8-11); Emanuel Harrold: drums (1-6, 8-11); Kamau Kenyatta: soprano saxophone (1); Keyon Harrold: trumpet (2-4, 8, 11), flugelhorn (3); Yosuke Sato: alto saxophone (2, 3, 6, 8-11); Tivon Pennicott: tenor saxophone (2-4, 8, 10, 11).

Title: Be Good | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Motéma Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read Super Mood CD/LP/Track Review
Super Mood
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2018
Read Beheaded Totem CD/LP/Track Review
Beheaded Totem
by James Fleming
Published: September 24, 2018
Read New Hope CD/LP/Track Review
New Hope
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 23, 2018
Read The Nobuki Takamen Trio CD/LP/Track Review
The Nobuki Takamen Trio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 23, 2018
Read "Hidden Details" CD/LP/Track Review Hidden Details
by John Kelman
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Tenderly featuring Gilad Hekselman" CD/LP/Track Review Tenderly featuring Gilad Hekselman
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 30, 2017
Read "The Chicago Blues Box 2" CD/LP/Track Review The Chicago Blues Box 2
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Lazuli" CD/LP/Track Review Lazuli
by John Eyles
Published: July 6, 2018
Read "In The Blue Light" CD/LP/Track Review In The Blue Light
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 23, 2018
Read "Fatidic Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Fatidic Dreams
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 4, 2018