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Before & After with Gregory Porter

On Stevie, Mark Murphy & the wailing of church mothers

Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter strolls into the lobby of the Monterey Hyatt on a picture-perfect Friday afternoon in September, and the pre-festival buzz suffusing the room seems to ascend to a higher pitch. With the release of his third album, Liquid Spirit, three days prior, he’s added another few gallons of rocket fuel to his career’s torrid upward trajectory, a ride powered by his Grammy-nominated debut from 2011, Water, and his equally heralded follow-up, 2012’s Be Good (both on Motéma). With Liquid Spirit, his first for Blue Note, he seems poised for the same kind of crossover leap taken by his labelmate Robert Glasper. But in place of Glasper’s hip-hop grooves and new-school-R&B beats, Porter draws on gospel, soul and the politically conscious R&B that made the early 1970s such a fervently creative era.

A big man with a big, earnest sound, he’s getting his message out and building a reputation for incendiary performances. After tearing up one of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s smaller rooms last year, he got invited back to the big stage. Porter, 42, sat down for this Before & After in the Hyatt a couple of hours before his soundcheck.

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Originally Published

Andrew Gilbert

Andrew Gilbert is a Berkeley-based freelancer who has written about arts and culture since 1989 for numerous publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, East Bay Express, Berkeleyside, and KQED’s California Report. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he experienced a series of mind-blowing epiphanies listening to jazz masters at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in the late 1980s, performances he remembers more vividly than the gigs he saw last month.