Blue Note Records (label)
07 September 2020 (released)
07 September 2020
A Rare Treasure - Gregory Porter in generous mood with Double LP.
If ever we needed a reminder just how important Music is, be it Contemporary, Classical, Jazz, whatever this album embodies that cause. Gregory Porter’s All Rise weighs in at 1 hour ,17 minutes of original songs covering Jazz, Soul and Ballads that range from brassy heavyweight anthems to meandering melodies.
It takes-off with Concorde an uplifting tune with an instant impact like a boomy glass of Aussie Shiraz, full-bodied and plenty of bottom-end. “60,000 feet up in the air, I can’t wait to come back down” he implores. Dad Gone Thing sees him letting the light in on his childhood and we learn even in adversity, Porter sees the positive. Onto Revival Song, a real rebel-rouser and if there was a time to ‘All Rise’ this is it, with a Gospel Choir endorsing his booming Baritone, it skips along with syncopated handclaps, a la Liquid Spirit you might say, but it’s sterling stuff all the same.
Side 2 of 4 is like another set. Laidback, think Jazz bar, think quartet then swap solemn singer purging pain for heartfelt, warm melody: Introduce some exacting tone control served over delightful orchestration and brushed rhythms. If Love is Overrated is tender, serene with a bold film score-like introduction.
The opening bars of Faith in Love denote another ballad, before striking up with a Marvin-esque rhythm, and some muddy hum-bucker Jazz guitar. On to sides 3 and 4 and you realise this is a finely arranged and produced album. Less surprising when you consider the personnel involved such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the deft touch of multi-instrumentalist/arranger Troy Miller. With thirteen tracks on the standard edition, there is much to choose from, Mister Holland is another rearview-mirror reflection again with kindness, while Modern Day Apprentice is a catchy out and out Ballad. The breadth of tempo and genre in the songs allows the length of the record to work and when you think you’re destined for late-night Radio mellowness, in comes Phoenix which has an Acid-Jazz feel. ‘Ive learned to breath under water, and lay fire to bed’ he defiantly claims on Long List of Troubles tastefully conveyed with thundering Blues piano, gutsy Hammond organ courtesy of Ondrej Pivec and a delightful chord change to chorus. Real Truth starts laidback and veers off in to Modern-Jazz with some virtuoso Keyboards, in Herbie Hancock vein.
It’s evident Gregory Porter is not looking for mainstream appeal and it’s a rarity to find a musician holding onto his or her integrity and staying true to cause, when you consider the considerable dent Coronavirus has made on the performing arts industry. Time will tell how All Rise will perform commercially, but it certainly deserves to do so. A fine collection of songs, produced with finesse. A Stellar performance.
Stuart Large is a Music Writer - follow him on twitter @boyaboutsound / www.noteworthybystuart.com