October 12, 2020. All rise, the biggest male voice in jazz has returned. Although, strange as it may seem, that generous designation is actually limiting when talking about Gregory Porter. Because that amorphous place where jazz, gospel, blues, soul, and R&B all get together and cross streams—he presides with just as much authority there, too.
All Rise is Porter’s first new record in nearly three years and his most revelatory. To borrow a favorite exhortation of football coaches, it leaves no doubt. In the past, he’d been reluctant to explicitly give voice to his faith in his music, but, here, he goes and tells it on the mountain. We’ve heard Porter’s tributes to Nat King Cole, but, here, a close listener will be able to distill almost every thread of Porter’s musical sensibility.
This is no minimalist record. The one-time scholarship linebacker at San Diego State better known for his trademark deerstalker’s cap and that unmistakable gentle giant’s baritone still delivers hits—more than a couple here over the course of a 15-song, 73-plus minute epic. But these days he’s more like a quarterback supported by the biggest offensive line ever; he’s backed here by London Symphony Orchestra strings, killer horn arrangements by drummer, pianist and producer Troy Miller, a 10-voice choir and all the production grandiosity that Blue Note Records can bring to bear. Best of all, the big budget backing and slickly produced pyrotechnics don’t shield Porter from