thu 01/10/2020

Album: Gregory Porter - All Rise | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Gregory Porter - All Rise

Album: Gregory Porter - All Rise

Porter and team on strong form

It’s not all just about that great voice. Gregory Porter also has a mighty generosity of spirit, plus empathy, warmth and optimism. And he has gathered a superb team around him to make a strong album with plenty of scale and depth.

It’s not all just about that great voice. Gregory Porter also has a mighty generosity of spirit, plus empathy, warmth and optimism. And he has gathered a superb team around him to make a strong album with plenty of scale and depth.

All Rise (Blue Note/Decca) is deliberately a very different album from Nat King Cole & Me. The 2017 album was mostly covers, with arranger Vince Mendoza ensuring a creation of luxuriant spaciousness. Songs on the new album are all written or co-written by Porter who brings satisfying variety, both emotional and stylistic.

There are gentle, thoughtful, confessional slow-paced songs like “If Love is Over-Rated”, or the love-song “Modern Day Apprentice” with just piano (Porter’s redoubtable and long-standing piano player Chip Crawford) and strings. And then there are songs such as “Faith in Love” which start like that, but then grow inexorably until the Californian’s resplendent baritone voice is soaring over a studio orchestra at full tilt, in the time-honoured manner of Joe Williams or Johnny Hartman.

The press material focuses on Porter himself, but the success of the album is also that of a major collective effort, in which there could be no more important or sure-footed contribution than that of Troy Miller. He racks up credits variously as drummer, percussionist, pianist, arranger of horn sections, choirs and strings and as co-composer, conductor, mixer and producer. The ending of “ Merchants Of Paradise” needs the softest of fades to nothing on marimba? Simples. 

Porter is often in dialogue with instrumental soloists and this is another area of real quality. The Brno-born, Brooklyn-resident Hammond specialist Ondrej Pivec is just quite jaw-droppingly good. “Everything You Touch Is Gold” features glorious fluency from Keyon Harrold, the trumpet-playing brother of Porter’s stalwart drummer Emmanuel. And talented Londoners like songwriter Oli Rockberger, arranger Ben Castle and guitarist Femi Temowo crop up and deliver quality and class.

All these contributions weave around Porter himself and strengthen what he does. The singer has written of “Revival Song”, written in memory of Freddie Gray, the 25-year old who died in police custody in Baliimore in 2015: “It’s about finding your source of strength to bring you back to seeing who you truly are so that you can be restored to the giant that you are.” That is what Gregory Porter, with help from some fine musicians has achieved with All Rise in 2020.

@sebscotney

The Californian’s resplendent baritone voice soars over a studio orchestra at full tilt

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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