By Chef/DJ Ayinde
I first met Gregory around the corner from my apartment in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. His brother and sister-in-law owned the now defunct Bread-Stuy coffee house. We often used to be on the same bill at shows at the other neighborhood spot, Solomon’s porch, also defunct. Greg is a shy giant of a man. At that time, we all played in venues with so-so acoustics but you always felt Greg. He has a passion and earthy down home chuaach kind of sound. If you have not heard him before, his voice is very familiar. You may not know his words but you know the feeling.
Mr. Porter’s first album “Water” was nominated for a Grammy and the whole hood was like… “what?!”
Here is the 1960 single which was an instant classic with literally pages of remixes on SoundCloud. This is my fave:
The second album is simply one of the best jazz albums out there, unlike say the mathematical jazz genius of Robert Glasper. This is jazz centered abound the vocalist. To the credit of Gregory’s best friend, saxophonist, pianist and composer; Kamau Kenyatta is also his producer. In jazz, the vocalist IS an instrument. Greg’s harmonies are off the chain! Listen:
Probably the most interesting thing about Gregory as that he is an artist and the second thing you notice is he wears a hijab-like covering that covers most of his face. The story I’ve heard is actually quite common in the black community like when an ingrown hair turns into a keloid, the keloid scar spreads and for certain types of skin it can get really bad; it happened to my uncle. I was at a dinner party recently and we played Gregory’s music. A huge discussion erupted and we googled him etc. All the while the music kept heads bobbing.
You may think it’s crass to talks about something that is afflicting a person but quite the contrary. I believe we carry our life on our skin and in our body. I have countless scars and to ignore them is to ignore the struggle and triumphs. Jazz is one of the only forms of music where people are represented by their talent no matter what package they come in.