Since Kurt Elling there hasn't been a singer in jazz who has had such a brilliant career start as Gregory Porter. With "Water" (2010) and "Be Good" (2012), his first two critically acclaimed albums for the indie label Motéma Music, Porter established himself as one of the best contemporary jazz singers. This was also underlined by the two Grammy nominations he received for these albums. Now he presents Blue Note with "Liquid Spirit", his eagerly awaited third solo album. And Blue Note President Don Was encouraged the singer to remain true to his unique artistic vision on the new label. "I definitely consider myself a jazz singer, but I love the blues, black Southern soul and gospel music no less," Porter defines himself. "These elements always find their way into my music. And I've always noticed them in jazz."
When recording "Liquid Spirit", the singer again relied on the musicians who formed the core of his band on the two previous albums: Pianist Chip Crawford, who also serves as musical director, drummer Emanuel Harrold, bassist Aaron James, alto saxophonist Yosuke Sato and tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. Porter strengthened the band around trumpeter Curtis Taylor and organist Glenn Patscha on some tracks. Old acquaintances of the singer are also producer Brian Bacchus and arranger and co-producer Kamau Kenyatta. "I didn't say to myself: 'Okay, now I'm on Blue Note Records, now I'm going to try to sound like Freddie Hubbard', Porter explains. I didn't come up with a special plan for this album." He just wanted the album to sound as organic as possible. And this goal, he was sure, he reached more with a team that had been working together for years than with a band composed of stars
Porter has one of the most captivating and soulful baritone voices of our time. He manages to convey the emotions and spirit of every song imaginable without having to resort to theatrical tricks. In the New York Times, critic Nate Chinen wrote: "Gregory Porter owns most of what you want from a jazz singer, and maybe a few things you didn't know you wanted." His colleague Kurt Elling is also full of praise: "I am very confident about Gregory Porter's career. It sounds wonderful and has a really great concept. It pleases me to hear him evolve and to see him gain recognition and opportunity to spread his creative wings." Jazzdiva Dee Dee Bridgewater praised Porter in the JazzTimes with the following words: "We haven't had a singer like him for a long time. He's such a wonderful songwriter. He just tells great stories."
And she's right about that. Porter actually has an amazing gift for writing moving songs based on personal experiences with a familiar and emotional directness. Even more: his catchy melodies are immediately catchy. On "Liquid Spirit" Porter deals with similar themes as on his debut album "Water": the songs deal with romantic ups and downs, his childhood, and sociopolitical observations. He also interprets three classics in his own distinctive way: Dobie Gray's Motown hit "The 'In Crowd", "Lonesome Lover" by Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach and the jazz standard "I Fall In Love Too Easily" by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn. "I try to bring something from the people who have deeply influenced me to every album. Lonesome Lover is my declaration of love to Abbey Lincoln," Porter reveals