This is Gregory Porter's greatly anticipated third album and his first on Blue Note. For his first, "Water", he received a grammy nomination in the category of Best Jazz Vocal. His second offering, "Be Good" gained him a grammy nomination in the category of Best Traditional R&B. With his third, "Liquid Spirit" maybe he'll get nomination in two or three categories because even though he is known as a jazz singer, you cannot deny his strong roots in R&B, Blues & Gospel.
Many people have compared him to the likes of Sam Cooke, Bill Withers, Otis Redding, Lou Rawls, Les McCann, Johnny Hartman and of course, Nat King Cole. Why do we search for a comparison? I can only think it's because the authenticity & intimacy in his voice and lyrics, makes us happy & comfortable and familiar only because it's like we are listening to an old friend...A friend we have known for many years....we know this guy...he is US.
It has been said that jazz is a powerful, living, breathing art form that uplifts, connects and transforms us. In my opinion, that is just what he does. He can transform his sounds into something new, yet familiar. His lyrics communicate specific emotional, spiritual and intellectual life, with an approach of perfect pitch and all wrapped up with a whole bunch of soul.
Some of the highlights for me are "No Love Dying" and "I Fall In Love Too Easily" beautifully telling us that mistakes in love may be where pain comes from but ultimately it is also the source of great joy. "Lonesome Lover" written by Abbey Lincoln & Max Roach, never got the play that it deserved and Porter keeps the song's integrity but makes it new and now, maybe it will be included in the Great American Songbook (where it belongs). "Musical Genocide" tells us how we cannot forget music's past. "The In Crowd" and "Movin'" take us back in time, kickin' it old school, and making us smile in contentment. "Liquid Spirit" is a hand clapping, goin' to church, testifying, rockin' song that if you don't feel good after hearing it, you better call the undertaker, because you must be dead! And most importantly, "When Love Was King", with lyrics that have a "Nature Boy" vibe but also for me, I thought of Ellington's "Is God A Three Letter Word For Love", in it's intent. Some critics might find it sappy but I found it to be a beautiful melody with a very poignant yet hopeful lyric.
And like the good friend that we feel he is, he has kept his great personnel with him from his previous recordings. If it's working, don't mess up a good thing! And it's quite apparent that he shares a sibling like simpatico with collaborator & pianist, Chip Crawford, who adds so much to this album.
The rest of the personnel are all standouts too. They are, Yosuke Sato, Alto Sax; Tivon Pennicott, Tenor Sax; Aaron James, Double Bass; Emanuel Harold, Drums.
The only thing that could have made this even better is if it were a "live" performance because after all in jazz, it's the "for the moment" sets that jazz is all about.