There are only barely a handful of male jazz vocalists that have made a dent in the music industry in a heavily inundated field of female vocalists. With the exception of Jose James and Kurt Ellling, vocalist Gregory Porter came out at a time where there hasn’t been a crooner that’s dominated jazz. The Bakersfield, California native was raised in the church as well as the popular music that he grew up listening to. His debut Motema Music release “Water” is proof that music continues to evolve and that his voice is needed when singing standards is economically losing to the “American Idol Syndrome” or lack of new and fresh talent.
I recently caught Gregory at both of his sold-out performances at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola and must say he’s about to blow-up. Saxophonist James Spaulding(Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson) was Porter’s special guest. He and has band lit the bandstand with a serious horn section that added to his powerful down-home and soul-stirring vocals.
Porter cites Nat King Cole as one of his heros and idols. As a child, his mother used to encourage him to listen to her Cole records as well as host of other vocalists from other musical genres. He wrote and recorded his first song at the age of five. Although his mother was a minister, she didn’t let their deep religious background deter him from auditioning and allowing him to perform in secular musicals and plays while as a teenager.
Gregory made the transition of moving to New York City where he’s become an accomplished actor and jazz vocalist. He’s performed in major Broadway and off Broadway productions like “The Civil War,” “It Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues,” “Nat King Cole and Me,” and “Low Down Dirty Blues.” Also, he’s appeared many television shows such as “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” “The Today Show,” and “Late Night with David Letterman.”
His debut CD “Water” features classic covers of such “Skylark,” Wayne Shorter’s “Blue Nile,” “But Beautiful” and the politically charged “1960 What?” One of the standout tracks on the CD is “Wisdom” featuring the legendary James Spaulding on alto sax (also on “Black Nile).
Currently, you can see Porter every week at Smoke in New York City. For upcoming tour dates or to order his latest disc “Water,” visit him on the web at www.myspace.com/thevoiceofgregoryporter