It was released in November 2010 on Motéma Music, and in hindsight the album Water appears in 2022 to be not only the phenomenon that changed Gregory Porter's status - he moved from "illustrious unknown" to "affirmed mainstay contemporary jazz star" - but also an unavoidable reference in the African American vocal artistry of this new millennium. By reissuing the record and making it an integral part of its catalogue alongside the singer's other recordings, the eminent Blue Note label has breathed a second life into this authentic masterpiece, giving it new visibility together with its deserved place in the recent history of vocal jazz.
When it first appeared, this was a first album by a largely unknown singer who was already 40: nothing seemed to indicate that its reputation would spread far beyond the world of jazz. Recorded in August 2009 in Brooklyn, under the aegis of producer/arranger Kamau Kenyatta, Water originally had no other ambition than to allow Gregory Porter to display the extraordinarily emotive powers of his voice, and finally reach a connoisseur audience who would provide him with the springboard that could launch his solo career. And yet the contagious rustling of those enthusiastic recommendations that were now spreading fast by word of mouth would catapult that record into the spotlight.
Who, exactly, was this uniquely styled artist? Who was this character who had so quickly asserted such a singular personality, in a context that was resolutely jazz? All of a sudden, it seemed inconceivable that such a deep, soft, warm and sophisticated voice - one that in only a few inflections could move the listener from tears to rebellion, from tenderness to sensuality - had remained in the shadows for so long, so obvious was it that Water had all the sparkling brilliance of a great, instant classic.
Recorded in a 'live' situation - all the musicians in the same room - with a talented group that was a blend of up-and-coming young instrumentalists from New York (among them a particularly inspired and committed pianist/arranger named Chip Crawford) and a few veterans who were familiar figures at sessions like these (such as the legendary saxophonist James Spaulding, a stalwart of countless Blue Note recordings in the '60s and '70s that featured the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson and many others...) - Water stood out from other productions of the time in that it had been conceived, thought-out and manufactured in a profoundly organic way. It spontaneously weaved together the links between styles, genres and generations in the very same context.
The material that went into Water was filled with charm, not only a handful of great standards with magnificent new readings ("Skylark", "But Beautiful" or again a "Feeling Good" made immortal by Nina Simone and sung here a cappella), but above all an impressive series of original songs in a great variety of styles and registers, from the melancholy ballad "Illusion", a portrait of the torments of lost love, to the decidedly political jazz-soul manifesto "1960, What?", a song whose passion is irresistibly romantic. Inside this great record "of love and protest" - as the singer himself described it when it first appeared, Gregory Porter finely weaves together the intimate and the political.
What spontaneously touched the hearts of the public - perhaps without Porter even being precisely aware of it - was that voice of his, a voice that is out of the ordinary, suave and lyrical, deep and warm. Water went on to be nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Vocal Jazz Album in 2011 and fast-tracked him to a meteoric career that has today durably installed him among the greatest stars of contemporary jazz. In reissuing this seminal work as part of its prestigious catalogue, Blue Note has given a new generation of music lovers the opportunity to discover the creative power of Gregory Porter.
- Double LP
- Black Vinyl
- First Time Reissued on Blue Note
- Gatefold Jacket
- Made in Italy
|James Spaulding||alto saxophone|
|Yoske Sato||alto saxophone|
- Magic Cup
- Black Nile
- 1960 What?
- 1960 What? (Opolopo Remix)
- But Beautiful
- Lonely One
- Feeling Good