Totally unknown to the general public just eight years ago, the singer Gregory Porter soon conquered the US, then Europe, from autumn 2010 with “1960 What?”, an anti-establishment song lasting over nine minutes. The album “Water” (2010) set Gregory Porter and his baritone voice on a virtual throne between Nat King Cole and Donny Hathaway. With “Liquid Spirit” (2013) and his composition “When Love Was King”, he gained irresistible public esteem. At the age of 46 (Nat King Cole’s age at his death in 1965), the Californian, now living in Brooklyn, is just as much at home with the vocalese style, gospel, the smooth blues of Jimmy Witherspoon and the velvet warmth of his childhood hero, Nat King Cole, the subject of his fifth album. With “Nat King Cole & Me” (2017), he beautifully revisits the crooner’s hits (“Nature Boy”, “Mona Lisa”), but the song he cherishes the most is perhaps “Pick Yourself Up”. The song is a summary of the influence that Nat Cole had on an anxious child named Gregory. “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start over again,” as it says in the chorus. “When I was recording it, I could feel the presence of my mother, and also the fact I have always been looking for my father”, the gentle giant explained at the time. Now he is back in Vienne with the ONL, conducted by Vince Mendoza, whose arrangements give the album breathtaking scope.
Line-up : Gregory Porter (voc), Chip Crawford (p), Jahmal Nichols (b), Emanuel Harrold (dms), Tivon Pennicott (sax), Orchestre National de Lyon
Photo : © Eric Umphery