With a voice that can caress or confront, embrace or exhort, Grammy nominee, Gregory Porter exhibits such an incredible degree of vocal mastery that no less a jazz luminary than Wynton Marsalis has gone on record to call him “a fantastic young singer,” which makes the fact that Water (out now from Motema Music) is his recording debut even more impressive. A debut release it may be, yet Water flows with a sense of timelessness that reflects the seasoned talents of the giants of blues, gospel and soul that have influenced Porter throughout his career. Some of the singers that Porter cites as influential are familiar – Nat King Cole, Joe Williams and Donny Hathaway – and others – such as the pastor of the church he attended as a child among them – may never realize their impact on his development as an artist. While the work of singers such as Hathaway or Cole obviously helped to shape Porter’s vocal styling, his own world view, as evidenced in his seven original compositions and his striking interpretation of classic songs such as “But Beautiful” and “Skylark,” adds an emotional intensity that makes each of the CD’s eleven tracks speak so eloquently. For the recording, Porter tapped a powerful cadre of strong players, among them the iconic alto sax player James Spaulding (Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson, et al) who plays a featured role on two tracks: “Wisdom” and “Black Nile.” Born in Los Angeles, raised in Bakersfield, and now living in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, Gregory Porter has made the world his musical home. A frequent guest performer with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Porter also maintains a residency at Smoke Jazz in New York. He appears on 2 tracks on the new Nicola Conte album, appeared on the Jools Holland BBC show in mid April. This year among the many festivals and events he will be on include the elb Jazz Festival in Hamburg, the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland and the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta.
With the release of her debut CD, Beautiful Flower, Ayanna Gregory has introduced herself to the world. For this soul singer, songwriter, and agent of change, music is more than entertainment; it is her mission. And with penetrating depth, Ayanna sings songs that make audiences feel and heal. In a time so needy of real music, Ayanna promises to bring to the world a most beautiful and meaningful brand of Soul Music.
Ayanna is no stranger to the entertainment world. While growing up as the daughter of celebrated Comedian and Human Rights Activist Dick Gregory, Ayanna was blessed with the opportunity to interact with such mega talents as Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and the Jackson Family. But the glamour of the entertainment world isn’t what resonated most with her. Raised with a deep awareness and concern for Human Rights, Ayanna’s musical roots are steeped in the struggle of the “Freedom Movement”. Ayanna knew early on that her gift of song would be her gift to the struggle.