Album artwork for Be Good by Gregory Porter

Californian-born New Yorker Gregory Porter shot to fame with his debut album, Water, in 2010, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal in the process. This follow-up comes with high expectations, but fans of authentically soulful vocals and luxuriant horn-heavy arrangements need not worry, Porter has, in a word, nailed it.

Porter’s voice is a marvel: a warm, assured tenor with precise, impeccable intonation, completely at home in classy originals that – like all good jazz – seem to bathe in timeless familiarity. On Painted on Canvas, Porter’s delivery is imbued with some of Donny Hathaway’s earnest wistfulness, while the title-track feels so much like a standard from the Great American Songbook that it’s a cinch to imagine it cropping up in a Sammy Davis Jr TV special between The Candy Man and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head – and it comes as no surprise to learn that Porter is a veteran of musical theatre.

Yet, despite these stylings, Porter clearly sees his work as part of a jazz lineage – as driven home in the breezily up-tempo optimism of On My Way to Harlem with its Duke Ellington name-check and Porter’s claim of “I was baptized by a jazzman’s horn”. It’s a sentiment that benefits from the genuine jazz chops laid down by an acoustic band built around pianist Chip Crawford – who isn’t afraid to take his solos out beyond obvious melodic territory – and saxophonist/arranger Kamau Kenyatta, whose solos are a little more honeyed.

There’s a sense of sumptuous comfort about much of the album – and not just in the arrangements. Porter’s lyrics, too, seem to come from a place of great emotional strength: Real Good Hands is a respectful marriage proposal (complete with cornball 70s-style spoken introduction) and Mother’s Song is a gospelised paean to family values. In fact, towards the middle of this (quite long) album it’s all so wholesome and smooth that it’s a little like lingering too long in a hot bath and nodding off into steamy, contented slumber.

Gregory Porter

Be Good

Motema
Album artwork for Be Good by Gregory Porter
CD

£12.99

Released 05/03/2012Catalogue Number

MTM0075

Usually dispatched in 5-10 days

Album artwork for Be Good by Gregory Porter
LPx2

£22.99

Black
Released 31/01/2020Catalogue Number

MTM3796

Gregory Porter

Be Good

Motema
Album artwork for Be Good by Gregory Porter
CD

£12.99

Released 05/03/2012Catalogue Number

MTM0075

Usually dispatched in 5-10 days

Album artwork for Be Good by Gregory Porter
LPx2

£22.99

Black
Released 31/01/2020Catalogue Number

MTM3796

Californian-born New Yorker Gregory Porter shot to fame with his debut album, Water, in 2010, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal in the process. This follow-up comes with high expectations, but fans of authentically soulful vocals and luxuriant horn-heavy arrangements need not worry, Porter has, in a word, nailed it.

Porter’s voice is a marvel: a warm, assured tenor with precise, impeccable intonation, completely at home in classy originals that – like all good jazz – seem to bathe in timeless familiarity. On Painted on Canvas, Porter’s delivery is imbued with some of Donny Hathaway’s earnest wistfulness, while the title-track feels so much like a standard from the Great American Songbook that it’s a cinch to imagine it cropping up in a Sammy Davis Jr TV special between The Candy Man and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head – and it comes as no surprise to learn that Porter is a veteran of musical theatre.

Yet, despite these stylings, Porter clearly sees his work as part of a jazz lineage – as driven home in the breezily up-tempo optimism of On My Way to Harlem with its Duke Ellington name-check and Porter’s claim of “I was baptized by a jazzman’s horn”. It’s a sentiment that benefits from the genuine jazz chops laid down by an acoustic band built around pianist Chip Crawford – who isn’t afraid to take his solos out beyond obvious melodic territory – and saxophonist/arranger Kamau Kenyatta, whose solos are a little more honeyed.

There’s a sense of sumptuous comfort about much of the album – and not just in the arrangements. Porter’s lyrics, too, seem to come from a place of great emotional strength: Real Good Hands is a respectful marriage proposal (complete with cornball 70s-style spoken introduction) and Mother’s Song is a gospelised paean to family values. In fact, towards the middle of this (quite long) album it’s all so wholesome and smooth that it’s a little like lingering too long in a hot bath and nodding off into steamy, contented slumber.