Be Good (Motéma Music)

Gregory Porter

Released February 14, 2012

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2012

JazzTimes Top 10 Albums of 2012




Hot off the heels of his 2010 GRAMMY-nominated Motéma debut, “Water”, vocalist Gregory Porter made waves again with his Grammy-nominated follow-up “Be Good”. Porter’s emotive vocals and songwriting are on prominent display in a collection of nine arresting originals. His artistry also shines on three distinctively interpreted standards, including “God Bless the Child,” “Work Song” and “Imitation of Life.”

Track Listing:

1. Painted on Canvas (Gregory Porter) 4:45

2. Be Good (Lion’s Song) (Gregory Porter) 6:26

3. On My Way to Harlem (Gregory Porter) 7:40

4. Real Good Hands (Gregory Porter) 4:50

(Grammy Nominee for Best Traditional R&B Performance 2013)

5. The Way You Want to Live (Gregory Porter) 4:24

6. When Did You Learn (Gregory Porter) 4:19

7. Imitation of Life (Paul Francis Webster) 3:00

8. Mother’s Song (Gregory Porter) 6:59

9. Our Love (Gregory Porter) 3:31

10. Bling Bling (Gregory Porter) 6:00

11. Work Song (Nat Adderley / O. Brown Jr.) 6:34

12. God Bless the Child 3:34


Gregory Porter: vocals

Chip Crawford: piano (1-11)

Aaron James: bass (1-6, 8-11)

Emanuel Harrold: drums (1-6, 8-11)

Kamau Kenyatta: soprano saxophone (1)

Keyon Harrold: trumpet (2-4, 8, 11), flugelhorn (3)

Yosuke Sato: alto saxophone (2, 3, 6, 8-11)

Tivon Pennicott: tenor saxophone (2-4, 8, 10, 11)

Recorded June 20 – 22, 2011, at Systems II, Brooklyn, NY

Produced by Brian Bacchus

Engineer: Mike Marciano

Mastering and Mixing: Liberty Ellman

Art Direction: Rebecca Meek

Photography: Vincent Soyez


Music industry clichés are kicked into touch here by what is not so much the difficult second album as the dynamic successor to the first. Water, the 2011 debut that took most by surprise, is possibly bettered. Porter’s life experience and maturity – the years of gestation in musical theatre as well as small venues such as St. Nick’s in Harlem – are instantly felt in an offering that has something of the relaxed gravitas of a fully formed artist rather than the demonstrative ways of a callow youth who is a touch too eager to please. ‘Painted On Canvas’, ‘Be Good (Lion’s Song)’ and ‘On My Way To Harlem’ are brilliant, proof positive thereof, a superb opening run of tracks that veer from simmering ballads to stomping, Motown-inspired soul jazz that displays Porter’s populist touch without watering down his artistry.

Well served by a horn section that kicks and holds back in line with the push and pull of the voice, these pieces also highlight a gifted purveyor of melodies and lyrics who can make acute observations about both human nature and the changing face of African-American culture in these tryin’ times. As was the case with Water, Porter gives a reverential nod to the tradition by way of stirring takes on Nat Adderley’s ‘Work Song’ and Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless The Child.’ Taken a cappella, the latter reveals the great glow of his priceless baritone. Given the impact he made last year, the singer should secure greater accolades with this set, as there is no slip of quality control. Most excitingly, there is a commercial appeal to Porter’s music that takes nothing away from his technique. It’s a reminder that jazz and soul can co-exist without a sacrifice of integrity.

Kevin Le Gendre (Jazzwise)