Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In review--Sugar & Spice

Gregory Porter
Motema Music

As the flood waters recede in western Washington, debut jazz artist Gregory Porter’s Water plays in the background. Similar to the stormy weather alternating with the sun peeking through thick clouds, Porter’s recording, rides a wave of emotions too. From tender love ballads like the opener, Illusions and Pretty to the bombastic socio-political 1960 What? that recalls Martin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Porter covers all the bases here.

Porter composed and co-arranged the bulk of the recording and his lyrics cut straight through the heart. The arrangements with passionate horns, and saxophone anchored down with piano, bass, and drums, wed to Porter’s visual text. Porter’s vocals hit the spot too, again portraying a palette of emotions, outrage on 1960 What? and sensual on Pretty, when Porter sings, “Her hand strokes the drum. She plays so fast I can’t find the one…”

On Magic Cup the musicians introduce Latin jazz funk and Wisdom features a blend of jazz and gospel, and Porter ends the recording with an a cappella blues piece, Feeling Good. His vocals radiate throughout the recording. His passionate delivery of the classic Skylark promises to turn heads. As far as debut recordings go, this among the hottest I’ve come across in my 24 years of reviewing music—highly recommended.


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