Gregory Porter: Singing Jazz For Now

It's an exciting time for "serious" jazz as popular music, with a new crop of vocalists—such as Esperanza Spalding, Jose James and, now, Gregory Porter—who harken back to a time when bop, soul, funk and even bossa nova were not separated but a multi-genre swirl of great music. These artists are as influenced as much by huge stars like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield as they are by daring, experimental and progressive artists who rarely got the kind of radio and mass media attention they deserved (Andy Bey, Gil Scott-Heron and Terry Callier spring to mind). Like Spalding and James, Gregory Porter has what it takes to bring a new, young audience into the jazz world.

Porter jumped out of the gate in 2010 with his Grammy-nominated debut, Water, which showcased his luxurious vocal style (think of a streetwise, soul-inflected Nat King Cole) that was complemented by an alternately tender and tough writing style influenced by such R&B visionaries as Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and the more grounded Bill Withers. On Water, Porter proved he could bring something new to beloved standards such as "Skylark," "Feeling Good" and "But Beautiful," while also taking flight on deeply personal, self-penned tunes like the dreamy "Illusion" and the muscular, pained protest epic "1960 What?"

Porter's follow up, Be Good, proves that the time is right for U.S. audiences to discover a new artist who's at once an innovator and a caretaker of decades of black popular music. The free Magnifier track "Painted on Canvas" illustrates the Bakersfield native's original voice and the humanistic, open-eyed view of his lyrics.

We can't imagine anyone not being moved by Gregory Porter's work and invite you to discover more music both by him and his heroes and peers. These are artists who are smart enough to know that jazz can still be popular music and that R&B can still be art. – Nick Dedina, Google Play

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