This personal reflection of work from Gregory Porter shows an artist at the peak of his genre
Californian jazz singer Gregory Porter returns to the centre stage with his fourth studio album ‘Take Me to the Alley’. This soulful release is riddled with trumpet solos and profound musings of life as a young man growing up in today’s world.
Following an accident during his fledgling college football career, Porter decided to take up singing. Inspired by listening to Nat King Cole and his mother’s ministerial background, the 44 year old musician has come far.
Porter is mostly recognised for his trademark flat cap/ balaclava hybrid. Telling JazzWeekly.com, it’s to cover some surgery he’s had so he wants to stick with it for some time.
‘Take Me to the Alley’ continues to pave his musical career with his smooth, deep, soulful vocals. The opening track, ‘Holding On’ is a piano-encrusted piece with the artist musing “though the past has left me bruised, I ain’t hiding from the truth”, whilst the track is neatly intertwined with a trumpet solo. It’s a masterful rework of the track he co-wrote with Disclosure.
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Tracks like ‘Don’t Lose Your Steam’ and ‘Daydream’ speak about the trials and tribulations of growing up from boy to man. Considering Porter’s son is now a toddler, there’s no denying these are some personal reflections.
Tales of love and the consequential woes with such a feeling are echoed in tracks like ‘Consequence of Love’ and ‘More Than A Woman’. The pace slows, with more emphasis on the rhythmic bass and a simple beat.
Porter indulges in a more upbeat mood in tracks ‘In Heaven’ and ‘Fan the Flames’ where trumpets, drums and pianos jangle as Porter belts and bops with his harmonious voice.
The final track ‘French African Queen’ is a true piece of jazz with the storytelling lyrics of an american singer “bringing blues from America” to the bars of Paris. Notes of Miles Davis-style discordant trumpets give off a late-night, carefree vibe to this track.
As a jazz musician Porter has crossed some boundaries, which includes the musician featuring in Disclosure’s ‘Holding On’. This personal reflection of work is another positive step for the artist and confirmation that this singer-songwriter is clearly at the peak of his genre.
‘Take Me to the Alley’ was released on 6th May 2016 via Decca Records.
This Gregory Porter article was written by Fina Charleson, a GIGsoup contributor