Archives for the month of: September, 2013

Album Review: Liquid Spirit, Gregory Porter (Blue Note Records, Sept 2013)


Gregory Porter’s Liquid Spirit album opens with beautifully lyrical track, “No Love Dying.” It’s a fitting start to an album that gives us the third chapter in Porter’s recording career. His debut album, Water (Motema, 2011) garnered a Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy nomination. His follow-up, Be Good (Motema, 2012) contained some fantastic tracks: “On My Way to Harlem” and the title track, making Porter the coolest vocalist in jazz.

What’s immediately striking about Porter’s music is the tone of his voice. Hearing him sing takes you back to a ‘Golden Age’ in jazz, even if you’re too young to have experienced it yourself.

In a recent interview on NPR, Porter discussed the influence of Nat King Cole on his musical appreciation. Although some draw the comparison between Porter’s and Cole’s voices, I liken him more to Bill Withers. Liquid Spirit features a couple of tracks where the Withers style emerges. “Hey Laura” is an easy-going song very reminiscent of the 70’s soul and R&B icon. “Musical Genocide” is another inspired vocal performance that evokes Withers.

Beyond the voice, there is great songwriting and, like his first two albums, Liquid Spirit doesn’t disappoint. Melodies in “Water Under Bridges” and “Wind Song” are refreshingly simple and perfectly suited to Porter’s storytelling vocal style.

The title track stands out. Driven more so by rhythm than melody, Porter makes it swing to thrilling effect. The song also serves as a nice allegory to Porter’s effect on today’s jazz music:

Watch what happens / when the people catch wind / of the water hitting banks / of hard dry land!                  – Liquid Spirit

Indeed, Porter’s music quenches a drought in jazz. His voice and songwriting can gain mass appeal, even without straying into pop. Porter may just succeed where Michael Buble didn’t — grabbing mainstream music by the shirt collar and dragging it over to Jazz’ corner once again.

Playlist: Running


If, like me, you are afflicted with the running/jogging bug, you may participate from time to time in 10 km charity runs, like the Terry Fox Run, which I did today.

I had been running on and off for a number of years but was not consistent until I started listening to music while running. A good running playlist helps get you off to a good start, energize you along the way, and give you that boost when your focus starts to wane.

Today’s 10k playlist:

1. Tales from the Beach, Incognito, Tales from the Beach (Bluey Music Ltd., 2008)
2. No Limit, Breakwater, Breakwater (Arista, 1978)
3. Goodbye to Yesterday, Incognito feat. Mo Brandis, Surreal (Dome, 2012)
4. I Love Music, The O’Jays, Family Reunion (Philadephia Int’l Records, 1975)
5. Here to Love You, The Doobie Brothers, Minute by Minute (Warner Bros., 1978)
6. American Idiot, Green Day, American Idiot (Reprise, 2004)
7. You Make My Dreams Come True, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Voices (RCA Victor, 1980)
8. I’m So Free, Lou Reed, Transformer (RCA Victor, 1972)
9. 110%, Jesse Ware, Devotion (Island, 2012)
10. Supermarket, Pete Dunaway, Pete Dunaway (Som Livre, 1974)
11. It’s Bad, It’s Good, Die Roten Punkte, Kunst Rock (Die Roten Punkte, 2012)
12. Pharoahs, SBTRKT, SBTRKT (Young Turks, 2011)
13. Lost Without You, Nato, Reggae Hits 37 (Jet Star, 2007)
14. Ooo La La, Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines (Star Trak Ent., 2013)

Notably, tracks 11 and 12 really helped me step up the pace and finish strong. I beat last year’s time by 6 minutes.