Grammy-winning jazz star Gregory Porter is set to wow audiences with a special live performance on The Graham Norton Show tonight accompanied by none other than movie legend Jeff Goldblum. They’ll be performing the Nat King Cole classic ‘Mona Lisa’ on the show (BBC One, 10.35pm), with Gregory singing and Jeff on piano. The pair will also be joining Gerard Butler and Jack Whitehall on the red sofa for a chat, plus the episode will feature a hotly-anticipated interview with Hilary Clinton.
Gregory said of the duet, “I’m a big fan of Jeff’s movies so to learn he was a fan of my music was really special. Jeff is really talented and a great pianist – I really enjoyed playing with him and hope we can do it again sometime soon.”
Gregory Porter is back in the UK promoting his new album, ‘Nat King Cole & Me’, and earlier this week joined a special reception held at 10 Downing Street to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month.
Gregory’s new album (released October 27th on Decca/Blue Note Records) is a deeply personal tribute to Nat King Cole – the legendary crooner who ignited Gregory’s love of music. “It’s only natural that I go to the root of my inspiration and where I come from. And that root would be my mother and gospel music and Nat King Cole,” he says.
Gregory has released a stunning new video for album track ‘Smile’. Directed by Ben Crabb (Michael Bublé, Prince), it is wonderfully cinematic – beginning in classic back and white, reminiscent of the original Nat King Cole TV show, before changing to full colour halfway through the video to incredible dramatic effect. Gregory said, “For me, ‘Smile’ is a message of optimism and irrepressible love. Conductor Vince Mendoza captured the eloquence and sophisticated beauty of that song in his arrangement.”
The new album marks the first time Gregory has recorded with a full 70-piece orchestra, under the baton of six-time Grammy-winning conductor and arranger Vince Mendoza. Gregory will also be embarking on a UK tour in April next year, including two nights at the Royal Albert Hall where he’ll be joined by an orchestra.
Recorded at London’s AIR Studios, the 12-track album also features some of Gregory’s favourite Nat King Cole tunes including ‘L-O-V-E’ and ‘Nature Boy’. There is also a Nat-inspired arrangement of Gregory’s own song ‘When Love Was King’, originally released on his million-selling hit album, ‘Liquid Spirit’.
For Gregory Porter, the influence of Nat King Cole on his life and music runs deep, a through-line that reaches back into some of his earliest childhood memories, and culminates in the release of his new album ‘Nat King Cole & Me’. Gregory explains, “At five or six years old, Nat’s music filled a void in me. My father wasn’t in my life and wasn’t showing interest in me or raising me and Nat’s words were the life lessons, words of wisdom and fatherly advice I needed.”
‘Nat King Cole & Me’ is the follow-up to his Grammy-winning albums ‘Liquid Spirit’ (2013) and ‘Take Me to the Alley’ (2016). ‘Liquid Spirit’ took Gregory from being the biggest name on the jazz scene to being one of the most sought-after singers around today, performing sell-out shows across the UK and being invited to perform on high profile TV programmes including The Graham Norton Show, Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC Music Awards. He has become an adopted national treasure in the UK, having sung for the Queen multiple times, as well as major music festivals including Glastonbury, where he performed on the Pyramid Stage alongside the likes of Muse, Adele and Coldplay. Gregory’s ability to transcend genres even extends to his surprise dance hit ‘Liquid Spirit Claptone Remix’ which became one of the most popular tracks in Ibiza.
After winning over audiences with his rich and soulful voice, there can be no better time for Gregory to return to the music which first inspired him to become a singer. On Nat’s legacy and influence Gregory affirms, “He was one of a kind. He left such great music – such beautiful things to listen to that you can’t help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool.”
1. Mona Lisa
3. Nature Boy
5. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
6. Miss Otis Regrets
7. Pick Yourself Up
8. When Love Was King (arrangement of an original Gregory Porter composition from Liquid Spirit)
9. The Lonely One
11. I Wonder Who My Daddy Is
12. The Christmas Song
Tickets on sale through Amazon Tickets
5 - Birmingham Symphony Hall
6 - Birmingham Symphony Hall
7 - Liverpool Empire Theatre
8 - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
10 - Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
11 - Cardiff St Davids Hall
12 - Manchester Apollo
13 - Leeds First Direct Arena
15 - Sheffield City Hall
17 - Bournemouth BIC
18 - London Royal Albert Hall (with orchestra)
19 - London Royal Albert hall (with orchestra)