Gregory Porter’s “Way to Harlem”
I for one am anxiously awaiting Harlem-based Motema Music artist Gregory Porter’s new joint to drop. Last Thursday at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club he and his band offered a taste of what might appear on this new project. One of the songs they played, “Way to Harlem” speaks of Langston Hughes and Marvin, showing Gregory’s signature sound and deep appreciation for Harlem’s history and who would have rolled through these neighborhoods over time. Along with choice cuts from his debut album Water, and a few new songs, he killed with his renditions of “Equinox” and “Blackbird.”
I try to see this band whenever I can, with Chip Crawford on piano, Albert Smith, Jr. on bass, Yosuke Sato on sax, and this night Jerome Jennings sat in on drums (brilliant, by the way). At the end of the night, Curtis Taylor sat in on trumpet during a usually riveting “1960 What?” Gregory Porter – Funky rendition of \”1960 What?\” at St. Nick\’s Jazz Pub.
I’m enthralled with the way Gregory has incorporated his self-proclaimed influences of Nat King Cole, Donny Hathaway and Joe Williams into a completely uncommon, timeless style all his own. I love the church in his jazz, and his poetry both in words and delivery. His original song “Be Good” is devastatingly beautiful.
I highly recommend getting in on Gregory Porter and his band in an intimate setting like this. His skat is to be experienced. I hope he fills your spirit like he does mine.