GREGORY PORTER ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF NAT KING COLE & ME; HEARTFELT TRIBUTE ALBUM OUT OCT. 27 ON BLUE NOTE.
2-TIME GRAMMY WINNER HONORS HIS LIFE-LONG IDOL WITH STUNNING COLLECTION OF THE LEGENDARY SINGER’S CLASSIC SONGSFEATURING ORCHESTRAL ARRANGEMENTS BY VINCE MENDOZA.
On October 27, 2-time GRAMMY-winning vocalist Gregory Porter will release his 3rd Blue Note album, Nat King Cole & Me, a heartfelt tribute to his idol, the legendary singer, pianist and Capitol recording artist Nat King Cole. With the help of 6-time GRAMMY-winning arranger Vince Mendoza, the London Studio Orchestra, a core band featuring pianist Christian Sands, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Ulysses Owens, and special guest trumpeter Terence Blanchard on two tracks, Porter revisits some of Cole’s most cherished classics such as “Mona Lisa,” “L-O-V-E,” “Nature Boy,” “The Christmas Song,” and the lead track “Smile” which is available today to stream, download, or receive immediately with album pre-order.
For Porter, the influence of Cole on his life and music runs deep, a through-line that reaches back into some of his earliest childhood memories. “He was one of a kind. He left such great music – such beautiful things to listen to that you can’t help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool,” Porter enthuses. “It’s only natural that I go to the root of my inspiration and where I come from. And that root would be my mother and gospel music and Nat King Cole,” Porter says.
“My mother said I wrote this little song when I was 5 and put it on a tape and played it for her when she came home from work,” recalls Porter. Upon hearing it his mother, Ruth Porter, exclaimed “Boy, you sound like Nat King Cole,” a compliment that sent the curious young Gregory delving into her record collection.
“I remember thinking how strange that name was, going through her records, and first seeing his image: this elegant, handsome, strong man sitting by a fire, looking like somebody’s daddy. Then I put the vinyl on the player and out of those speakers came that voice, that nurturing sound. It filled a void in me. My father wasn’t in my life; he wasn’t raising me; he wasn’t showing any interest in me. So Nat’s words, ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again’ – all of these life lessons and words of wisdom were like fatherly advice. They were coming out of the speakers like Nat was singing those words just to me. I would listen to his albums and imagine that Nat was my father.”
Earlier in Porter’s career – after his role in the Tony-nominated musical It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues but before rising to international acclaim as his solo artist – Porter dramatized his deep appreciation for Cole in a semi-autobiographical musical, Nat King Cole & Me, which premiered in 2004.
“That musical was a way of me trying to find my father,” Porter explains. “I wrote it after my father [Rufus Porter] had passed. The musical was of Nat King Cole; and half of the music was of my original writing. But the story is how I came to Nat’s music in the absence of my father. So in a way, it was some self-prescribed, self-written therapy and emotional medicine for myself.”
That musical underpins Nat King Cole & Me, the follow-up to Porter’s GRAMMY-winning Blue Note albums Liquid Spirit (2013) and Take Me to the Alley (2016), which established Porter as a global superstar and his generation’s most soulful jazz singer-songwriter. The album will be available on the following formats: deluxe vinyl, deluxe/standard CD, deluxe/standard download, and on streaming services.
“I went about selecting the songs like I always do – first in a very emotional way,” Porter says. “I just gathered the songs that meant something to me over the years. There was a period in college when I had an injury to my shoulder and I needed music to soothe me at that time. So I ended up going back to Nat’s records. Then I did the same thing during the passing of my mother. In a way, there’s a familiarity and a calming effect to Nat’s music. Recording Nat’s music was very personal because I could hear and feel my mother. And I still feel myself searching for my father.”
The track listing for Nat King Cole & Me is as follows:
1. Mona Lisa (Ray Evans/Jay Livingston)
2. Smile (Charlie Chaplin/John Turner/Geoffrey Parsons)
3. Nature Boy (Eden Ahbez)
4. L-O-V-E (Milt Gabler/Bert Kaempfert)
5. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Farres Osvaldo)
6. Miss Otis Regrets (Cole Porter)
7. Pick Yourself Up (Jerome Kern/ Dorothy Fields)
8. When Love Was King (Gregory Porter)
9. The Lonely One (Lenny Hambro/ Roberto Heller)
10. Ballerina (Carl Sigman/ Bob Russell)
11. I Wonder Who My Daddy Is (Gladys Shelley)
12. But Beautiful** (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen)
13. Sweet Lorraine** (Cliff Burwell/Mitchell Parish)
14. For All We Know** (J. Fred Coots/Sam M. Lewis)
15. The Christmas Song (Mel Tormé/Robert Wells)
**only available on deluxe edition
Blue Note Records
Photo © Shawn Peters
NEWS / This generation’s most successful jazz and soul singer-songwriter, the man in the hat, Mr Gregory Porter, is back, with new album 'Take Me To The Alley'.
Released on Decca Records on 6th May, this is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Porter's sensational modern classic, the Platinum-selling 'Liquid Spirit', which took the UK by storm last year as it broke into the Top 10 and became the most streamed jazz album of all time.
For the first time, hit track 'Holding On' can be heard in its original form. On this album, a beautifully spacious arrangement is revealed, brimming with lyrics about the “irrepressible force of love”. The decidedly dressed-down version unveils the command of Porter’s songwriting gifts as it allows space for the romantic lyrics and simple melodic line to shine.
Porter stated: “It’s a way of saying that a song is a song is a song. The lyrics and the intention of the song come through no matter what kind of bells and whistle are going on.”
The first single from 'Take Me To The Alley' is the arresting and bluesy 'Don't Lose Your Steam',which Porter wrote with his three-year-old son Demyan in mind. Propelled by a stomping, organ-enhanced groove, Porter lyrics speak of staying committed to one’s goals, regardless of hardship. ?
Porter said of the album: "With this record I continue to condense life experience into melody and most of all put love in the air. Very excited to share the music with my fans or anyone within the sound of my heart”
To see Gregory in action is a life experience and next month Gregory returns to the UK for an extensive headline tour, including two London dates. This demand, and level of public affection, has seen Porter become an adopted national treasure in the UK, having performed for the Queen multiple times, and graced the stages of the UK's best summer festivals, with a show-stopping performance at Glastonbury last year.
Take Me To The Alley track listing:
1. Holding On (Gregory Porter/James John Napier/Guy William Lawrence/Howard John Lawrence)
2. Don't Lose Your Steam (Porter)
3. Take Me To The Alley (Porter)
4. Day Dream (Gregory Porter/Craig Dawson)
5. Consequence of Love (Porter)
6. In Fashion (Porter)
7. More Than A Woman (Porter)
8. In Heaven (Darlene Andrews, Gregory Porter’s cousin)
9. Insanity (Porter)
10. Don't Be A Fool (Porter)
11. Fan The Flames (Porter)
12. French African Queen (Porter)