Gig review: Gregory Porter, Glasgow

Gregory Porter's security blanket 'jazz hat' is not his only trademark. Picture: Getty
Gregory Porter's security blanket 'jazz hat' is not his only trademark. Picture: Getty
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There are at least two things that now immediately set Gregory Porter apart from most of his American jazz singer peers.

Gregory Porter - ABC, Glasgow

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As well as his trademark eccentric headgear – a flat cap augmented with the fold-down flaps of a deerstalker (his so-called “jazz hat” which he wears as a kind of security blanket) – there’s also the fact that his latest album Liquid Spirit won the 2014 Grammy Award for best jazz vocal performance.

The latter factor, more than the former, anyway, accounts for the Californian’s recent surge in popularity, bringing him to venues such as ABC not commonly host to jazz shows.

There are few genres of music that sound as unfamiliar as jazz when removed from its more natural environment of intimate club and theatre settings, and in terms of sound quality and atmosphere, something was perhaps unsurprisingly a little bit lacking here.

But Porter could have carried the show through strength of personality alone.

“I been readin’ about y’all,” he warmly welcomed his first Glaswegian audience, before demonstrating a more applied knowledge of the Scots with Hey Laura, a sensual number about a “soulful woman” from Edinburgh.

Much as Porter’s masterfully-commanded hot butter croon – never better than during the Broadway-esque drama of ballad Wolfcry – was the heart and soul of the performance, the fun factor lay in the adventurousness and joie de vivre of his four-piece band’s playing. Be it pianist Chip Crawford’s flying-fingered soloing during On My Way To Harlem, or Yosuke Sato’s emotive saxophone virtuosity throughout Be Good (Lion’s Song).

Hats off to the lot of them. Or should that be hats on?

Seen on 03.05.14