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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2012
After his extraordinary debut album Water you might think it would be difficult to follow that - with all the acclaim it got. But no; if anything this is even better. Although it is more of the same - but anybody who liked that debut album (which was JazzWise magazine album of the year) cannot fail to be impressed with this.

Every track sounds like an "instant classic" and like it was written by somebody who has been in the music business for decades and not somebody who just appeared out of nowhere last year. So the sound palette is all-acoustic instruments again, with the Jazz influence dominating; although there are subtle elements of old school R&B, funk and soul. In fact, it is almost like Gregory Porter has taken all the best from "Black" music of the last 50 years and distilled it into a working Jazz band. 11 new tunes from Porter and a cover of a Jazz classic.

I love the sound - crystal clear and everything perfectly audible - just like a classic Blue Note album - but updated for the 21st Century. The piano dominates throughout and has an intimate conversation on the quieter tunes, then provides the impetus for the "blowing" on up-beat tunes. Some great horn solos, with Flugel sounding gorgeous on the stand-out track "On my Way to Harlem". Bass and drums are of the highest quality and provide support without ever intruding.

Of course it really is all about that voice - which just defies description. Dynamics, sustains, subtelty - no words can describe that wonderful sound. But Porter rocks out with the band and on up-tempo tunes like Nat Adderley's "Work Song" - he becomes another horn player and you can imagine this kind of tune is tremendous in a live setting!

What else can I say - you just run out of superlatives for this - you just have to hear it and I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 20 May 2012
After the success of his last album: Water and in particular the track 1960 What, I doubted if this follow up CD would be in the same class, however the minute I heard the track On My Way to Harlem I knew that we have something special with Gregory Porter. Top notch vocals from this newly up and coming jazz legend.
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on 12 July 2012
I first heard Gregory Porter performing live on Jools Hollands' New Year's Eve Hootenanny and really enjoyed listening to his clear and soulful pitch-perfect vocals. I decided to purchase both of his CD's and was instantly impressed not only by the beautiful vocals and arrangements, but also by the quality of the songwriting and the lyrical content on both of them. "Be Good", his second and most recent offering, is a very classy recording with some very beautiful compositions.

The opener "Painted On Canvass" is beautifully reflective and soulful whilst retaining a strong Jazz influence. "Be Good" is a very melodic mid-tempo Jazz song with lovely thoughtful lyrics. The tempo speeds up on "On My Way To Harlem" which is a very energetic jazzy number. The suave "Real Good Hands" possesses lovely phrasing and lyrics. "The Way You Want To Live" and "When Did You Learn" are further examples of the classy and sultry mid-tempo songs which the very talented Mr Porter composes so well. The melancholic "Imitation Of Life", originally sung by Earl Grant, is interpreted splendidly. "Mother's Song" is another energetic and inspirational creation whilst "Our Love" is another lovely ballad. "Bling Bling" is much more experimental than the other tunes as it uses more improvisation, both musically and vocally. The album closes with two covers, the funky and soulful "Work Song" and the Billie Holiday classic "God Bless The Child", the latter being interpreted in a very interesting manner.

The quality of the songs on "Be Good" is truly commendable as they are so well written and interpreted. This style of laid back Jazz has been done many times before, but Gregory Porter manages to make it sound original and contemporary whilst keeping the listener thoroughly entertained and alert. This is the Jazz album I have been waiting for and I am very grateful that I discovered Mr Porter.
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on 13 February 2012
Porter's second release after the excellent debut 'Water' arcs again across the soulful to explosive jazz in a collection swelled with beautifully sung ballads to the scat blitz of his wilder moments.

Opener 'Painted On Canvas' is as tender as touch, the vocal caressing around gentle piano chords and playing lyrically with the colours of what makes us who we are. Title track 'Be Good' is playful too in its simple tune and the lyric 'she says lions are made for cages just to look at if you like/you dare not let them walk around cause they might just bite/she knows what she does as when she dances around my cage and says her name/be good, be good' - the metaphor of the lion teased and tamed in this relationship bolstered by a seductive alto sax solo by Yosuke Sato.

Third track 'On My Way To Harlem' is an upbeat homage to the influence and inspiration of Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, and Marvin Gaye: 'I so could use some of those blues from Langston Hughes'. His supporting band plays an energetic set for this spirited track. Fourth song 'Real Good Hands' has a wonderful spoken opening that evokes soul numbers of the sixties, and the sung assurances to the parents that he will look after their daughter seem equally anachronistic but totally believable in their polite promises, including 'I wanna make your daughter my wife'.

Seventh, the Webster/Fain 'Imitation of Life', is a classic piano-led jazz ballad that presents Porter's vocal in all its simple and gentle eminence. This is followed by another sweet offering, 'Mother's Song', which is a warm and heartfelt tribute invoking traditional sensibilities of honour, trust and blessing. Ninth 'Our Love' keeps the mood mellow and romantic.

It's tenth 'Bling Bling' that launches Porter's scat attack, and as with similar vocables in 'Water' it reminds me of that other expert of vocalese, Kurt Elling. The band again empathises with some raunchy playing, Tivon Pennicott's tenor saxophone screaming its part in the conversation.

The album ends on two classics. Penultimate track Ned Adderly's 'Work Song' gets a lively workout, Pennicott and Sato again laying down some scorching sax strides. Closer is a gorgeous a cappella version of 'God Bless The Child'. This is pure and perfect. No acrobatics here, but it is truly moving with its emotive delivery.

Porter is apparently most popular in Europe but particularly here in the UK. He appeared in the 2011/12 Jools Holland 'Hootenanny' and was, for me, the most distinguished performer in a show that is getting a little tired, though Holland's 'Later' is still brilliant at introducing acts on television, as with Porter when he released 'Water'. Porter did receive a Grammy nomination for that album. Whatever the wider acknowledgements and accolades, he is without doubt a great performer and this latest release is a superb addition to his art.
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on 18 April 2012
1st saw him on Jules Holland and found his style to easy and relaxing to listen to. The album is great for stress relief and just to chill to. Recommend it to anyone who enjoys good songs and a great voice.
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on 17 June 2012
I only became aware of Gregory Porter from an alert by Amazon - that was after I had bought a Mario Buiondi album. What a great tip from Amazon..!! Gregory Porter is top notch - just such a great vocalist and full of jazz and soul. I'd describe him as a mix of Sammy Davis Jnr and Marvin Gaye, sometimes with a sprinkle of Nat King Cole. A couple of the tracks on Be Good are a bit "cheesy", but more than offset by the others which are pure class. I'll be watching for him touring in 2013 as I definitely want to see him live.
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on 18 April 2012
I had seen Gregory Porter on Jools Holland and the Carole King session on the BBC and he stole the show. Thoroughly recommended !!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 March 2013
To make an album as good as this after `Water' is quite something. If anything this may be even better. This guy is going to be enormous and the biggest jazz artiste for decades. His voice is just wonderful and so is his music which he writes himself. Jazz has so many genres that it's impossible to define it these days. There's certainly sole, gospel, blues and his very special brand of jazz in his two albums to date, but I think there's a lot more to come.
I was lucky enough to see him live at the Cheltenham Jazz festival very recently - he was utterly outstanding, fresh, new, happy, every bit the new superstar of music and a real charmer too. This guy has just got it and my, is he into his music.
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on 17 May 2012
As I'm only just getting into Jazz, this seemed like a good place to start.

This album is nothing short of brilliant. I'd love to describe how each and every song has its own personal touch, how well crafted the music is and how it all comes together in a more or less perfect album, but I think I'll leave it to you to discover how pristine the quality of the music here is.
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on 12 November 2012
I was a bit sceptical of Gregory Porter and had dimissed him as pruding a pleasant mish-mash of music where jazz meets Marvin Gaye-inspired soul but having caught him perform live at the Vienne Jazz Festival this summer I was totally converted. He is a significant new voice to jazz and a pretty impressive composer to boot. I was staggered at how an artist could arrive upon the jazz scene so fully informed and mature in his work. Porter is a significant talent and I was instantly converted. He definitely deserved the very warm reception that the audience gave him

This record does live up to the live gig and the best material is represented by the first three compositions which are hugely impressive. As the Amazon review states, the middle of the disc includes a lot of more reflective pieces which tends to change the mood of the CD almost into MOR territory before the strident "Bling, bling" offers an almost extreme contrast. "Bling, bling" features some pretty "out" playing from the oianist Chip Crawford which recalled the late Andrew Hill in some respects and this pitches Porter firmly within the contemporary jazz canon. Crawford is far more of a prickly soloist that you would normally find behind a vocalist and I like this fact. The following "Work Song" swing very hard too and is the best version I've heard of Nat Adderley's old warhouse.

In summary, Gregory Porter was a wonderful voice and is pretty handy as a songwriter too. Nothing here to startle the horses and perfectly acceptable as a piece of jazz but a better balance with more up-tempo tunes might have ensured that this record was one of this year's most interesting jazz records. I think this is a very good album but the disc has a bit of a soft centre which probably makes it four stars and not five. A major talent, in my opinion. I would recommend this disc.
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