Syn­the­sis of jazz: Singer Gre­gory Porter

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS -

Vo­cal­ist Gre­gory Porter, al­ways natty and topped with a brimmed bal­a­clava, its flaps orig­i­nally used to cover his fa­cial scars, has one of the most dis­tinc­tive looks in jazz. His voice, too, is his and his alone. Think of the tone and rhyth­mic stylings of Lou Rawls and Bill Withers, and then dou­ble the rich­ness and sprin­kle some sugar on top. And he writes most of his own ma­te­rial. Tunes like “Hold­ing On” and “Don’t Lose Your Steam,” heard on his 2016 re­lease (and sec­ond Grammy win­ner) Take Me to the Al­ley, are pop an­thems, filled with in­spi­ra­tion and play­ful, rapid-fire rhyme. Themes of redemp­tion and re­silience re­flect his fa­ther­less up­bring­ing in Bak­ers­field, Cal­i­for­nia, his beloved mother a street preacher. He de­scribes his mu­sic as a di­as­pora, blend­ing gospel, blues, and soul through a “syn­the­sis of jazz.” Porter was in Lon­don in May, record­ing with a 72-piece or­ches­tra, for an al­bum sched­uled to be re­leased in the fall. When he ap­pears at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter ( 211 W. San Fran­cisco St.) on Satur­day, June 10, at 7:30 p.m., he’ll be backed by his quar­tet. For tick­ets ($38-$62), call 505-988-1234 or see www.tick­ — Bill Kohlhaase

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