All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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 Stillness & Sirens CD/LP/Track Review
Stillness & Sirens
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 17, 2018
Read Cycle CD/LP/Track Review
Cycle
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 17, 2018
Read Love From The Sun CD/LP/Track Review
Love From The Sun
by Chris May
Published: June 17, 2018
Read Outside My Window CD/LP/Track Review
Outside My Window
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 17, 2018
Read New Standards CD/LP/Track Review
New Standards
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 17, 2018
Read EP 1 CD/LP/Track Review
EP 1
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 16, 2018
Read "I Can See Clearly Now" CD/LP/Track Review I Can See Clearly Now
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 7, 2017
Read "Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics" CD/LP/Track Review Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 11, 2018
Read "No Fast Food" CD/LP/Track Review No Fast Food
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 6, 2018
Read "Time Being" CD/LP/Track Review Time Being
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 25, 2017
Read "Triple Double" CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 14, 2017