thu 30/05/2024

Album: Gregory Porter - Christmas Wish | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Gregory Porter - Christmas Wish

Album: Gregory Porter - Christmas Wish

Hallelulah: Christmas gets the Gregory treatment

The cat in the hat with the mellifluous voice delivers his Christmas Wish for the festive season, his first Christmas album, and it sounds more or less as you would imagine it – tasteful, discreet, soulful, reined in, but richly expressive, and celebrating the spirit of a sharing, caring Christmas.

It comes with some fine orchestral settings arranged by album producer Troy Miller, recording with the Kingdom Orchestra at Abbey Road, while Porter and his excellent band – pianist Chip Crawford, bassist Jahmal Nichols, drummer Emmanuel Harrold, saxophonist Tivon Pennicott and Ondre Pivec on Hammond organ – cut their tracks at New York’s Sear Sound studios.

Porter's voice is a medium you can sink right into, and his classy Christmas album is perfect for a relaxed, warm glow of a gathering, sporting plenty of tastefully interpreted classics – the opening “Silent Night”, “Little Drummer Boy” and an excellent duet with the young Grammy Award-winning jazz star Samara Joy on “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”. Gentle piano-led ballad “Everything’s Not Lost” is the first of three self-penned songs Porter adds to the mix, with ladles of love, hope, charity and the spirits of caring and giving – especially on title track “Christmas Wish” – sweetening and enriching the brew. His voice is a deep blue velvet set in a warm, firelit chiaroscuro on the lovely “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, while Stevie Wonder’s rousing, percussive paean for equality on “Someday at Christmas” and Marvin Gaye’s languid funk of “Purple Snowflakes” are highlights.

Vince Guaraldi’s Sixties classic “Christmas Time is Here” is a piano-led ballad, fully stocked with Christmas essentials – carols, snowflakes, firesides, sleigh bells, families – and runs to a nifty double bass solo, too, while the closing “Heart for Christmas”, the third of Porter’s originals, brings it on home with a focus on delivering the child’s joy of Christmas back to the adults, too. And tasteful, assured and warm as it is, Christmas Wish may well do just that.

@CummingTim

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