Gregory Porter: Cookin’ At the Jazz Room

The Jazz Room at William Paterson University, 10-27-2013

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By Karen Brundage-Johnson, PhD.
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Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, Gregory Porter performed on Sunday, October 27th at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey at the University’s Shea Center for Performing Arts as part of the Jazz Room Series. Porter combines a deep jazz and blues sensibility with a Jazz, Soul, R andB sound. The William Paterson Jazz Quintet was the opening act, performing the compositions by the legendary Wayne Shorter.

Porter was joined by his extremely talented quartet, featuring Yosuke Sato on alto saxophone, Chip Crawford on piano, Aaron James on bass, and Jeremy Clemens on drums. They took the stage opening with Porter’s quintessential "Painted on Canvas", delivered jaw-dropping vocals. As the show progressed, Porter and his quartet amazed the audience with demonstrations of their musical finesse.

As they performed “On My Way to Harlem”, Porter and Sato displayed their strong harmonious connection to the song, which spread throughout the crowd. This tune doubles as the story of the bands origin, when they all met at the defunct New York jazz bar St. Nick’s Pub. As the song developed into a hard groove jam, some audience members stood and danced, while others rocked back and forth in their chairs, filling the room with a symphony of snaps, claps and foot taps.

Pianist Crawford showed off his piano skills with several solos, including "Work Song" which brought an immediate uproar of applause when Crawford jammed chord after chord. Bassist James and drummer Clemens; each offered their own influence on the performance with multiple solos. At one moment Clemens was so caught up in his solo, he struck himself in the face with a drumstick. The good news is that he was fine and continued on with his solo to roaring applause.

Another notable performance of the night was “1960 What?” The band started the main verse with a slower tempo, but the energy built quickly. It included a call and response segment that had the entire audience singing back to Porter.

The show concluded with "I Fall in Love Too Easily". Porter effortlessly moved from clap-along tunes to scatting along with his band. One could tell the performance was appreciated, by the frequent woos and hollers from the audience who seemed to not be able to contain their excitement!

Launched in 1978, the Jazz Room has emerged as the nation's longest-running campus-based jazz series, encompassing the complete spectrum of the genre. The series has won numerous grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for its innovative programming. For more information visit http://www.wpunj.edu/wppresents/index.dot

More photos from the performance are in Ben Johnson's photo gallery by clicking here Ben Johnson Jazz Photos

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Karen Brundage-Johnson, PhD.