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...

9

Gregory Porter: Liquid Spirit

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Gregory Porter has a lot to live up to. Widespread critical acclaim, Grammy nominations and reviewers suggesting that he's the next big jazz star, the man to bring jazz back to mainstream popularity, all lay a big artistic burden on his (admittedly quite broad) shoulders. Liquid Spirit is his third album and it heralds a move to a major label, Blue Note. Maybe that just raises expectations even higher. No matter—Porter meets, and even exceeds, such expectations.

Porter's voice is a joy to hear: warm, engaging, capable of conveying emotion with subtlety. He's technically impressive, but he never uses technique just to impress. He's a fine songwriter as well, combining beautiful melodies with lyrics that tell stories and express feelings that seem to come straight from the singer's heart.

For Liquid Spirit Porter has retained a quintet of musicians from his second album, Be Good (Motéma, 2012). The saxophones of Yosuke Sato and Tivon Pennicott come together to excellent effect on the hard bop-come-gospel flavored title track, the soulful "Movin'" and the cheerful "Wind Song" but the album's finest moments appear when the instrumental accompaniment is pared down to just Chip Crawford's piano, Aaron James' bass and Emanuel Harrold's drums.

The sad but beautiful "Water Under Bridges" keeps things really simple: just Porter's voice and Crawford's piano. The result is a three and a half minute triumph: bluesy, heartfelt and heartbreaking. "Hey Laura" and "Brown Grass" run it a close second, both songs enlivened by Harrold's sympathetic drumming. "Wind Song" is more upbeat, a celebration. Soul classic "The 'In' Crowd" swings, Harrold and James laying down the groove, Crawford crafting a strong solo and Porter making it clear that he's in with the "In" crowd—not boasting, just telling it like it is.

There's just one small cautionary note. "When Love Was King" and Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne's "I Fall In Love Too Easily," the album's closing tracks, clock in at almost seven and eight minutes respectively, double the length of most of the songs. Despite Porter's superb vocals, the songs tend to meander and lose focus: a rather downbeat follow on from the gorgeous "Movin.'"

Intriguingly, while Porter's debut album, Water (Motéma, 2010) gained a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album his nomination for "Real Good Hands" from Be Good (Motéma, 2012) was in the Best Traditional R&B Performance category. There are performances on Liquid Spirit that could readily be considered for jazz, R&B, soul or gospel awards. Porter makes the transition between genres with apparently effortless ease—he's a singer and a songwriter at the top of his game and Liquid Spirit is an inspiration.

Track Listing: No Love Dying; Liquid Spirit; Lonesome Lover; Water Under Bridges; Hey Laura; Musical Genocide; Wolfcry; Free; Brown Grass; Wind Song; The “In” Crowd; Movin'; When Love Was King; I Fall In Love Too Easily.

Personnel: Gregory Porter: vocals; Yosuke Sato: alto saxophone; Tivon Pennicott: tenor saxophone; Chip Crawford: piano; Aaron James: double bass; Emanuel Harold: drums.

Title: Liquid Spirit | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "14.11.16" CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.16
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Song of No Regrets" CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "The Great Nostalgist" CD/LP/Track Review The Great Nostalgist
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 10, 2018
Read "Is It Me...?" CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "Graviton" CD/LP/Track Review Graviton
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "Life Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Life Stories
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 8, 2018