2019 Grammy Award Nominee:
• Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
• Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals: Mona Lisa
Two-time GRAMMY-winning vocalist Gregory Porter releases his 3rd Blue Note album, Nat King Cole & Me, a heartfelt tribute to his idol, the legendary singer, pianist and Capitol recording artist Nat King Cole.
With the help of 6-time GRAMMY-winning arranger Vince Mendoza, the London Studio Orchestra, a core band featuring pianist Christian Sands, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Ulysses Owens, and special guest trumpeter Terence Blanchard on two tracks, Porter revisits some of Coles most cherished classics such as "Mona Lisa," "L-O-V-E," "Nature Boy," "The Christmas Song," and the lead track "Smile".
For Porter, the influence of Cole on his life and music runs deep, a through-line that reaches back into some of his earliest childhood memories. "He was one of a kind. He left such great music such beautiful things to listen to that you cant help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool," Porter enthuses. "Its only natural that I go to the root of my inspiration and where I come from. And that root would be my mother and gospel music and Nat King Cole," Porter says.
"My mother said I wrote this little song when I was 5 and put it on a tape and played it for her when she came home from work," recalls Porter. Upon hearing it his mother, Ruth Porter, exclaimed "Boy, you sound like Nat King Cole," a compliment that sent the curious young Gregory delving into her record collection.
"I remember thinking how strange that name was, going through her records, and first seeing his image: this elegant, handsome, strong man sitting by a 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 wasnt in my life; he wasnt raising me; he wasnt showing any interest in me. So Nats 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."
"I went about selecting the songs (for the album) like I always do first in a very emotional way," Porter says. "I just gathered the songs that meant something to me over the years. There was a period in college when I had an injury to my shoulder and I needed music to soothe me at that time. So I ended up going back to Nats records. Then I did the same thing during the passing of my mother. In a way, theres a familiarity and a calming effect to Nats music. Recording Nats music was very personal because I could hear and feel my mother. And I still feel myself searching for my father."
Made in Czech Republic
Gregory Porter, vocals
Christian Sands, piano
Reuben Rogers, bass
Ulysses Owens, drums
Terence Blanchard, trumpet on "The Christmas Song" and "L-O-V-E"
1. Mona Lisa
3. Nature Boy
1. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
2. Miss Otis Regrets
3. Pick Yourself Up
1. When Love Was King
2. The Lonely One
4. I Wonder Who My Daddy Is
1. But Beautiful
2. Sweet Lorraine
3. For All We Know
4. The Christmas Song