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New jazz artist Gregory Porter exhibits such vocal mastery that no less a jazz luminary than Wynton Marsalis has gone on record to call him “a fantastic young singer.” The debut album, Water, is out now on Motema Music.
For the recording of Water, Gregory Porter tapped a powerful cadre of strong players, among them the iconic alto sax player James Spaulding (Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson, et al). The album consists of original songs, with musical references to the old jazz greats, and a few re-worked standards like the Wayne Shorter song, “Black Nile.”
Saxophonist, pianist and composer Kamau Kenyatta, who Porter also calls his best friend, produced the CD. In fact, it is Kenyatta who bears much of the responsibility for Porter’s career trajectory, which can be traced back to Porter’s early days singing in small jazz clubs in San Diego. He lived there while at San Diego State University which he attended on a football scholarship, as an outside linebacker, until a shoulder injury sidelined him permanently. Kenyatta, along with saxophonist Daniel Jackson (Ray Charles, Buddy Rich, Art Farmer and more) came to recognize Gregory’s other standout talent, and nurtured the burgeoning performer. Kenyatta “taught him what he needed to know.”
Gregory Porter – “1960 What?”
“1960 What?” is somewhat divergent from the rest of the album. This 12-minute soulful track is Water‘s most political song. It’s inspired in part by Kamau Kenyatta’s stories of life in Detroit and by the 1963 assassination of Martin Luther King, as well as Porters’s own experiences growing up in Los Angeles.
Gregory Porter – “Wisdom”
“Wisdom” is a song of deep spiritual force, which can easily be interpreted to be about post-Katrina New Orleans. Emphasizing his gospel roots with lyrics that echo the traditional biblical song “Wade in the Water,” Porter metaphorically positions water as an impediment, and wisdom as the means to overcome it.
You probably heard Chiddy Bang, comprised of Nigerian born emcee Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and DJ/producer Xaphoon Jones, dropped their first EP, Opposite of Adults. The Philly-based, electro-inspired hip hop duo’s lead radio single of the same name samples MGMT and has been met with critical acclaim since Kanye West posted the video to his much-read blog. The four-track EP is a follow-up to the duo’s celebrated first mixtape, Swelly Express, and seven-song mini-mixtape, Air Swell. Their debut album The Swelly Life is coming August/September.
The soundtrack for the critically acclaimed film, The Kids Are All Right, includes tracks from MGMT, Little Dragon, Quadron, Ge-ology ft. Yukimi Nagano, Betty Wright, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, CSS, and more. It accompanies a story about two teenaged children conceived by donor insemination who seek out their birth father and introduce him into the family life that their two mothers have built for them. Once the donor is found, the household will never be the same, as family ties are defined, re-defined, and then re-re-defined.
Focus Features and Gilbert Films present The Kids Are All Right, the most talked-about movie at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, in select theaters on July 9, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo and directed by Lisa Cholodenko.
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We’ve seen the original-nintendo – stylee music videos coming from Mark Ronson lately, and we’re all patiently waiting for his September release, Record Collection. Meanwhile, Tuesday night in London, Ronson was promoting the album with new band The Business International. Later in the performance, to the delight of the crowd, he was joined by his infamous collaborator Amy Winehouse. But audiences were let down when Amy only sang one song, for the encore. And when she did, she forgot the words.
Trainwrecks aside, Mark Ronson the producer is working in top form, and the new album features Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Boy George and Q-Tip. So when September rolls around, remember to pick up Record Collection.