Gregory Porter - with support
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With a voice that can caress or confront, embrace or exhort, Gregory Porter exhibits such an incredible degree of vocal mastery, that no less a jazz luminary than Wynton Marsalis has gone on record to call him “a fantastic young singer.” Born in Los Angeles, raised in Bakersfield, residing presently in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, Gregory performs around the UK, Europe, Russia and USA. A frequent guest performer with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Gregory also maintains a long-standing residency at Smoke Jazz Club in New York.
His debut recording Water received a Grammy Nomination in 2010 for Best Jazz Album. It was produced by saxophonist, pianist, composer and good friend Kamau Kenyatta. 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 on a football scholarship, as an outside linebacker, until a shoulder injury sidelined him permanently. Recognizing his talents Kenyatta, along with saxophonist Daniel Jackson, nurtured the burgeoning performer and as Porter says, “taught him what he needed to know.” Kenyatta invited Porter to visit him in the studio in Los Angeles, where he was producing the flutist Hubert Laws’ Remembers the Unforgettable Nat King Cole. Certainly Kenyatta was aware of Porter’s childhood infatuation with Cole’s music and certainly he could hear the echoes of Cole’s mellow baritone in Porter’s own voice.
Eloise Laws a highly respected singer and recording artist in her own right, joined the cast of the musical theater play, “It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues.” Although he’d only had minimal theatrical experience to that point in the Doo Wop musical “Avenue X”, Porter eventually was cast in one of eight lead roles when the play opened in Colorado at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and followed it to Off-Broadway and then Broadway theater, where the NY Times, in its 1999 rave review, mentioned Gregory among the show’s “powerhouse line up of singers.” They musical went on to earn both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations that year.
Gregory’s success on the stage with “It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues” paved the way for another theatrical outing and pairing with Eloise Laws. In his semi-autobiographical “Nat King Cole and Me,” he dramatically documented his childhood, which was marked by an absentee father and the joy and pain he heard when listening to his mother’s Nat King Cole records. This led to a rich imaginary life where the young Porter actually believed that the legendary crooner was indeed his dad, and that the love songs Cole sang were secretly being sung to him. Porter’s moving “Nat King Cole & Me” ran for two very successful months at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and traveled to Houston TX.
2011 brought nominations from the Jazz Journalists Association for Best Male Vocalist and a German Record Critics Award. In the UK, Gregory recorded a session for Jamie Cullum’s BBC Radio 2 program at Maida Vale Studios and was featured with Jools Holland on BBC 2 TV’s ‘Later’.
On July 4th, Gregory debut in the UK with a sell out performance at The Pizza Express Jazz Club, London repeated in October for The ReVoice Festival. Other performances included, Wynton Marsalis's 50th Birthday Celebration at Jazz At The Lincoln Center, NY., 'Jazz Voice' at the London Jazz Festival, broadcast live on BBC Radio ‘Jazz on 3’ and 'Jazz In The House in Parliament London.
2012 brings performances at Cheltenham, Monterey, North Sea, Montreal, Oslo Jazz Festivals, Southport Weekender and a UK tour with Jools Holland & Orchestra for Gregory following the release of his second album ‘Be Good’ on Motema,. ’Be Good’ entered the iTunes and Amazon Jazz charts in UK and US at No 1 and continues to gain airplay around the world.
Gregory Porter will be supported by Zara McFarlane
Vocalist Zara McFarlane is a rising star on the British jazz scene. Her debut album, Until Tomorrow, was released on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings in 2011. Her music has a liberal dose of subtle, stealthy swing, with a soulful undercurrent, appealing equally to jazz and soul fans alike. She is blessed with a fine voice and strength of character that produces thought-provoking lyrics delivered with heartfelt sensitivity and style. She has performed with Hugh Masekela, Alex Wilson, Denys Baptiste, Orphy Robinson, Soweto Kinch and Jazz Jamaica All Stars.
“Until Tomorrow is a delight ...filled with musical treasures, waiting to be discovered” - All About Jazz
“Zara McFarlane’s long-awaited debut album provides the perfect showcase for her wonderfully pure timbre, understated melodic approach and unerring sense of time.” - Jazzwise
Tickets £26.50, Standing Tickets £19.50