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The Brooklyn based singer GREGORY PORTER showcases “outstanding original songs, erudite lyrics and social comment, top drawer musicianship and improvisation, and a voice to die for” (Jazz Wise)—qualities that led l’Express to call him “the next great voice in jazz.” Porter’s career began when he moved to Bed Stuy in 2004 and began playing at neighborhood spots, including his brother’s restaurant Bread Stuy, where he was a chef, with some of the musicians who would eventually become his touring band. He released two albums Motéma, Water (2010) and Be Good(2012), before signing with Blue Note Records (under Universal Music Group). His Blue Note debut,Liquid Spirit, produced by Brian Bacchus, came out in 2013 and won the 2014 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. His hotly anticipated follow up, Take Me to The Alley, arrived in early May.
Multi-reedist and BRIC JazzFest alum MARCUS STRICKLAND and his electrifying band TWI-LIFE set the tone. The songs on Strickland’s recent Blue Note/Revive debut Nihil Novi, produced by Meshell Ndegeocello and released earlier this year, offer an “array of styles, harmonic textures, and dynamics, and reveal his preoccupation with hip-hop beatmaking.” (AllMusic)