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Blue Note Records has announced a September 17 release date for Liquid Spirit, the remarkable major label debut from GRAMMY-nominated jazz and soul singer Gregory Porter. The 14-track album is further justification for Porterâ€™s quick ascent into the top ranks of jazz and R&B singers today, and it also features 10 new originals which showcase Porterâ€™s innate gift for writing poignant songs based upon personal experiences with a relatable and emotional immediacy. Also included is a stirring rendition of the jazz standard â€œI Fall In Love Too Easily,â€ as well as covers of Abbey Lincolnâ€™s â€œLonesome Loverâ€ and Ramsey Lewisâ€™ hit â€œThe â€˜Inâ€™ Crowd.â€
â€œI firmly consider myself a jazz singer but I enjoy blues, southern soul, and gospel,â€ says Porter. â€œThose elements make their way inside my music. And Iâ€™ve always heard them in jazz.â€ Indeed, Porter wields one of the most captivating baritone voices in music today. It emits enormous soul that conveys both the emotions and intellect of any given song without relying on vocal histrionics. In The New York Times, Nate Chinen wrote: â€œGregory Porter has most of what you want in a male jazz singer, and maybe a thing or two you didnâ€™t know you wanted.â€ Jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater praised Porter in the pages of JazzTimes by saying, â€œWe havenâ€™t had a male singer like him in a long time. Heâ€™s such a wonderful writer. Heâ€™s a story teller.â€
On Liquid Spirit, Porter retains the same core musicians that accompanied him on his previous two albums â€“ pianist and music director, Chip Crawford, drummer Emanuel Harrold, bassist Aaron James, alto saxophonist Yosuke Sato, and tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. On a few selections, Porter complements that ensemble with trumpeter Curtis Taylor, and organist Glenn Patscha. Producer Brian Bacchus also returns, as well as arranger and associate producer Kamau Kenyatta.
Porter sees Liquid Spirit as a logical progression in his burgeoning discography as it touches on some of the same themes, particularly the highs and lows of romance, his childhood, and socio-political observations. More pointedly, he views the title-track, a rousing, hand-clapping gospel-jazz romp, dealing with replenishing â€œthirstyâ€ listeners with more substantial music, as the flipside to last yearâ€™s â€œBling Bling,â€ a blistering song on his previous album Be Good on which the protagonist had so many artistic gifts to give but no one to give them to. Similar sentiments occur on â€œMusical Genocide,â€ on which Crawford hammers a dark rhythmic figure against Jamesâ€™ bluesy bass accompaniment as Porter declares his refusal of accepting the insistent squashing of quality, diverse music and culture by a mainstream in favor of disposable, homogenized pap.
In part, these songs are based upon Porterâ€™s reflections on new fans, worldwide, who come to him saying, â€œWhere have you been?â€ or â€œHow come Iâ€™ve never heard you before.â€ â€œNot saying that I am â€˜what is,â€™ Porter says, â€œBut I think maybe what Iâ€™m doing is what people actually want to hear. There are some people who want that liquid spirit â€“ a soulful, thoughtful sound â€“ and they havenâ€™t been getting it.â€