Albums

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Vocal Jazz - Released November 30, 2018 | Blue Note Records

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In 2017, Gregory Porter released a tribute album - or rather a love letter, to the man he considers his ultimate hero: Nat King Cole. A remarkable musician who weaved his way between pure jazz and easy listening, an innovative and highly skilled pianist-virtuoso, and of course, a captivating singer/crooner with his deep, romantic and velvety voice that set him apart from everyone - this genius had never before been commemorated in so much style. In this live performance recorded on the prestigious stage of the Royal Albert Hall in London, Gregory Porter is supported by his trusty quartet (pianist Chip Crawford, bassist Jahmal Nichols, drummer Emanuel Harrold and saxophonist Tivon Pennicott) as well as by the 70 musicians of the London Studio Orchestra, conducted by Vince Mendoza. He features pieces that are closely associated with Nat King Cole (Mona Lisa, Nature Boy…) but also some of his own compositions ( Hey Laura, When Love Was King, Don’t Lose Your Steam…). Throughout One Night Only it is fascinating to see how Gregory Porter is just as comfortable when singing alongside the sophistication of the string section as he is in the rougher and groovier sequences. A vocal range that makes this show truly magical. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released February 25, 2019 | nagel heyer records

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Vocal Jazz - Released March 9, 2019 | Red Bus Classics

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Vocal Jazz - Released March 13, 2019 | Mad Jazz records

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Vocal Jazz - Released May 23, 2019 | Jazz Music Social Club

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Vocal Jazz - Released May 3, 2019 | Jazz Music Social Club

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Vocal Jazz - Released May 27, 2019 | Fresh Sound Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released May 5, 2017 | Verve

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What better way of making a new record than surrounding yourself with new collaborators? That was the idea that Youn Sun Nah had for She Moves On. Four years after Lento, the Korean singer has taken on a close-knit group comprising John Zorn, Jamie Saft on the piano, the Hammond organ, the Fender Rhodes and the Wurlitzer (he also produced the record), and Brad Jones on the bass alongside drummer Dan Rieser, who worked with Norah Jones in Little Willies. But it is above all the presence of the guitarist Marc Ribot on five of these eleven tracks that draws attention. Surrounded by these four strong personalities, Youn Sun Nah explores a fairly varied repertoire that owes as much to rock as to folk, to rhythms as to lyrics, taking in covers of Joni Mitchell (The Dawntreader), Paul Simon (She Moves On), Lou Reed (Teach The Gifted Children), Jimi Hendrix (Drifting with a searing solo from Ribot) or the traditional Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair. Three original compositions, Traveller, Evening Star and Too Late, complete this album which is resolutely inspired by American music and which presents her impressive voice in a context which rightly recalls Norah Jones, or Melody Gardot. But Youn Sun Nah's vocal personality is strong enough that she never seems to be stepping on her illustrious sisters’ toes, and she offers, from the outset, a record that is all her own. © MD/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2010 | FRANK SINATRA DIGITAL REPRISE

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
For an overview of Nat "King" Cole's years as a remarkably popular singer, this four-CD box would be difficult to top. Containing 100 songs spanning a 20-year period, this box has virtually all of Cole's hits, some of his best jazz sides, and more than its share of variety, including a humorous previously unreleased version of "Mr. Cole Won't Rock & Roll." Recommended to beginners and veteran collectors alike, its attractive booklet is also a major asset. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released October 27, 2017 | Blue Note

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It’s always good when the genius of an artist is rekindled. With this luxurious album, Gregory Porter puts his body and soul into the repertoire of one of his idols: Nat King Cole. A unique musician who slalomed between pure jazz and easy listening, a virtuosic pianist, an innovator with a great finesse, and, clearly, a fascinating singer/crooner equipped with a velvet voice, profound and romantic, recognizable by all, Nat King Cole is in good hands here! He has one of the most impressive soul’n’jazz voices of the past few years. Above all, Gregory Porter has a much richer and more complex soul to that of his peers, with all due respect! For Nat King Cole is a common theme in the life of the Californian forty-year-old who knows every nook and cranny of the Great Black Music. "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… I wrote this little song when I was five and put it on a tape and played it for my mother when she came home from work. She said ‘Boy you sound just like Nat King Cole’! I remember thinking how strange that name was, going through her records, and first seeing his image: this elegant, handsome, strong man sitting by the 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." This love for Nat King Cole’s music pushed him to adopt the jazzman as a substitute father! Furthermore, after having played in the musical It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, Porter decided to take his relationship to Cole to the stage by writing Nat King Cole & Me, a largely autobiographical musical that showed for the first time in 2004. "In a certain way I tried to find my father. I wrote it after my father died. This spectacle, for which I composed most of the music, speaks about Nat King Cole. But mostly in the way in which I got closer to his music because of the absence of my father. It was like a kind of therapy that I prescribed to myself. Almost 800 people came to watch each night." With help from the arranger Vince Mendoza and with a group composed of the pianist Christian Sands, the bassist Reuben Rogers and the drummer Ulysses Owens, Gregory Porter will satisfy the needs of fans of the singer/pianist who died in 1965. © CM/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | FRANK SINATRA DIGITAL REPRISE

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released September 23, 2014 | Streamline - Columbia - Interscope

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Vocal Jazz - Released April 27, 2018 | Legacy Recordings

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released November 10, 2017 | Decca (UMO)

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It’s always some kind of baptism of fire. Not a prerequisite but a way to measure oneself to one’s colleagues from yesterday and today. With the aptly named Standards, his tenth studio album, Seal climbs the Everest of the great jazz and swing classics. After three decades, the Brit doesn’t have anything to prove anymore about the soul quality of his voice. But this retro-flavored enchanted digression reminds us of how this powerful and sultry organ can master any repertoire. Recorded for the most part in the famous Capitol studios in Los Angeles, precisely where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat “King” Cole and many others have recorded some of their greatest discs, Standards has incidentally been created with the help of musicians that have assisted these great voices. We find pianist Randy Waldman (Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka), bass player Chuck Berghofer (Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles) and drummer Greg Fields (Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder), all gathered so that Seal would give his reinterpretations of Autumn Leaves, I Put A Spell On You, Love For Sale, My Funny Valentine, I've Got You Under My Skin, Smile, I'm Beginning To See The Light and Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow. “This is the album I have always wanted to make, explains the concerned party. I grew up listening to music from the Rat Pack era, so recording these timeless tunes was a lifelong dream. It was a true honour to collaborate with the same musicians who performed with Frank Sinatra and so many of my favourite artists, in the very same studios where the magic was first made – it was one of the greatest days of my recording career.” We can easily imagine that… © CM/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2010 | Virgin Catalogue

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
Bryan Ferry invests considerable time and energy in cover albums (he should, considering that they compose a good portion of his solo catalog), treating them with as much care as a record of original material. He's always found ways to radically reinvent the songs he sings, so it's easy to expect that his collection of pop standards, As Time Goes By, would re-imagine the familiar. Instead, As Time Goes By is his first classicist album, containing non-ironic, neo-traditionalist arrangements of songs associated with the '30s. That doesn't mean it's a lavish affair, dripping with lush orchestras -- it's considerably more intimate than that. Even when strings surface, they're understated, part of a small live combo that supports Ferry throughout the record. He's made the music as faithful to its era as possible, yet instead of rigidly replicating the sounds of the '30s, he's blended Billie Holiday, cabaret pop, and movie musicals into an evocative pastiche. Ferry is at his best when he's exploring the possibilities within a specific theory or concept; with As Time Goes By, he eases into these standards and old-fashioned settings like an actor adopting a new persona. Since Ferry has always been a crooner, the transition is smooth and suave. He makes no attempt to alter his tremulous style, yet it rarely sounds incongruous -- he may sound a little vampirish on "You Do Something to Me," but that's the rare case where he doesn't seamlessly mesh with his romantic, sepia-toned surroundings. On the surface, it may seem like a departure for Ferry, but in the end, it's entirely of a piece with his body of work. True, it may not be a major album in the scheme of things, but it's easy to be seduced by its casual elegance. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Fantasy Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Jazz songwriter and pianist Patricia Barber's 2006 album Mythologies, a song cycle based on Ovid's Metamorphosis, is a sprawling work of poetic and musical adventure. Upon its release, it garnered universal acclaim from critics and responsive concert audiences across the United States and Europe. After this rigorous undertaking, Barber could have been forgiven for taking a breather. And on its surface, that seems to be what the Cole Porter Mix is. But in Barber's case, this is far from true. While she claims in her bio that she's been singing his songs for years, and that he's her favorite songwriter, she does anything but a "standard" read on his tunes, though she never undermines their integrity. The album is called a "mix" because Barber has woven three of her own tunes -- written after the manner of Porter's -- into the fabric of the album. Given her austere yet highly original readings of his songs, they fit in seamlessly. She is accompanied here by her longtime backing group of Neal Alger (guitar), Michael Arnopol (bass), and Eric Montzka (drums), with drummer Nate Smith alternating on three tunes, and guest saxophonist Chris Potter appearing on five. Commencing with the opening number "Easy to Love," with its skeletal bossa nova rhythm (Barber doesn't play in the body of the tune and only contributes a wonderfully economical piano solo), and the relative austerity of her voice, it's obvious this isn't an ordinary standards set. She is faithful to the intent of these songs both lyrically and musically, but she shifts their arrangements in such a way that they are more suited to her deliberately restrained singing voice, and her own vocation as a songwriter. It's the songwriter she is paying tribute to here -- not the tradition. "I Concentrate on You" also carries within it the kernel of bossa, but this time, with her piano fills and artfully incisive manner of accenting, to quote Porter, "how strange the change from major to minor" without invoking the blues (the standard for doing so). Barber's pianism is elegantly idiosyncratic, even enigmatic. Her "cool" singing voice peels away the weight these songs have borne over the years, and instead returns to them their subtlety and gentle sense of humorous irony. There are some wild moments here -- such as the Latin polyrhythms at the heart of "In the Still of the Night," that set up a space for some serious blowing tenor by Potter -- but the spirit of "song" is never compromised. Barber's originals are truly canny, empathic evidence of her true understanding of Porter. "Snow," with its minor-key piano intro opens with: "Do you think of me like snow/cool, slippery and white? Do you think of me like jazz/as hip, as black as night?" The mysterious, dull ache of love and lust in "New Year's Eve Song" evokes the forlorn aspect of Porter but the strange, covert voyeurism of poet Robert Lowell's "Eep Hour": "Will he/peek in the mirror while she/knowing he's watching her tease/stripping the gown with ease/bare as the New Year, she/so in love with her is he..." All the while, the sense of a taut harmonic melody is inseparable from the lyrics, unveiling the secret intent in the song for both listener and singer. The Cole Porter Mix is a very modern form of imitation, as evidenced not only by interpretation but in her evocative compositions too; they mark the greatest form of flattery. But it is also an ingenious manner of reconsidering Porter -- and Barber -- with fresh ears. ~ Thom Jurek
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Vocal Jazz - Released September 30, 2014 | Bethlehem Records

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Vocal Jazz in the magazine