Gregory Porter’s love for the music of Nat King Cole began in early childhood. “My mother always used to say that one day when I was five, I had her listen to a song I wrote and recorded on a tape,” the singer recalls. “Upon hearing it, she cried out: ‘you sound just like Nat King Cole!’”. The compliment drove Gregory to dive into the jazz music... Soon after, he became the genre’s surrogate father!
Long after acquiring well-deserved worldwide success from his magnificent baritone voice, poignant compositions and astounding on-stage displays, Gregory Porter took his relationship with Nat King Cole to the stage with the musical “Nat King Cole & Me”, a largely autobiographical piece performed for the first time in 2004. It is also the show he performs today on stage and in his album. In his latest album, Gregory Porter revisits several of Nat King Cole’s most celebrated songs with help from the famous arranger Vince Mendoza and a band with Christian Sands on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass and Ulysses Owens on drums.
On the track list are “Smile”, “L-O-V-E”, “Nature Boy” and “The Christmas Song”. Performed by the London Studio Orchestra, Vince Mendoza’s splendid arrangements elegantly bring out Gregory Porter’s enchanting voice, making for a breathtakingly profound album. On stage, the impact is even stronger...
Opening act: Robin Mckelle
The Melodic Canvas project was born shortly after Robin McKelle’s jazz tour in Europe. “I was asked by the pianist Danilo Perez to be the vocalist in a band featuring Ben Street, Avishai Cohen and Chris Potter. It was unexpected – I hadn’t sung in that kind of environment in a long time. I got to enjoy risk and improvisation. Those guys get you to push your limits,” remembers the singer, whose career is taking a new turn with a seventh album. “I came out of this experience with lots of ideas and the impression I hadn’t mobilised all my potential,” she adds.
After several soul- and blues-themed albums, Robin McKelle chose to return to a rather minimalistic acoustic aesthetic – mostly accompanying a piano, guitar or percussion – with no heavy drums. Lauded for her performing qualities and powerful, expressive contralto voice, this session offers a chance to (re)discover a just as soulful, sensitive, nuanced, and personal side. She returned to jazz without giving up her characteristic groove, and her themes showcase a singer with new depths to discover. A sensitivity towards crafting melodies and music let her interact with partners as would an instrumentalist.