I'm not a very big fan of contemporary jazz vocalists, but considering this is the second time I've written about one
in the last few weeks I'm wondering if my aesthetic sensibilities are changing. In fact, I never cared too much for the music of Gregory Porter
, but his forthcoming third album, Liquid Spirit
(Blue Note), has made a convert of me. I've never questioned his skill, concision, and artistry, but I've never been compelled by his two previous albums. To be honest, there are some tunes on the new album I don't care for either—he composed most of the fourteen songs, and sometimes his writing veers toward mushy R&B on ballads. But at his best he locates a stunning crispness, finding a killer sound at the intersection of jazz, gospel, and soul that brings to mind singers like Bill Withers, Oscar Brown Jr., and Terry Callier. Today's 12 O'Clock Track
is the title cut from the new album and it captures him at his best, with superbly effective churchy handclaps, spare horn charts, and a deeply groove. Porter will perform at this year's Chicago Jazz Festival
on Saturday, August 31.