Recorded at Berlin's Philharmonic in 2016, Live in Berlin
finds acclaimed jazz vocalist Gregory Porter performing in concert for an enthusiastic audience. The album follows on the heels of Porter's Grammy-nominated 2016 studio album, Take Me to the Alley
. Backing him are his bandmates, pianist Chip Crawford
, bassist Jahmal Nichols, and drummer Emanuel Harrold
. Also joining the singer here is longtime associate saxophonist Tivon Pennicott
. Together, Porter and his band play a sophisticated, highly lauded brand of acoustic, R&B-inflected jazz that has drawn well-deserved comparisons to such legends as Donny Hathaway
, Marvin Gaye
, and Stevie Wonder
. Here, Porter gives a warmly delivered performance largely based around his distinctive original compositions. Included are several songs off Take Me to the Alley
, including the title track, "Holding On, and "Don't Lose Your Steam." He also gives a passionate reading of his 2012 composition "On My Way to Harlem," melding it half-way into Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Similarly engaging is his robust interpretation of the Temptations
' classic "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," which Nichols sets up via a swaggering solo bass intro. As with many of his influences, Porter's music strikes a balance between romantic, loverman balladry and socially minded commentary, as on his dramatic anthem, "1960 What?" Inspired by the 1967 Detroit riots and the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.
, it makes for one of the concert's most thrilling moments. Elsewhere, Porter dives headlong into such fan favorites as "Liquid Spirit," "Water Under Bridges," and "Consequence of Love." Ultimately, Live in Berlin
is a welcome addition to Porter's growing discography and showcases his burnished vocal chops and dynamic, emotive style.