My second album review is a late discovery of the 2016 Blue Note Grammy Award winning record, Take Me To The Alley by Gregory Porter. The Brooklyn, NYC resident delivers a remarkable album full of ballads and jazz tunes full of love and tribulations. Porter’s voice is like a hot heater warming your body on a frigid winter’s evening. His baritone timbre is filled with both sorrow and hope, and is completely healing for the soul. There is a reason why this album won the “Best Jazz Vocal” category at this year’s Grammy awards. Included in this gorgeous tapestry of vocal jazz pieces are contributions from the R&B artists Kem, Lalah Hathaway, and Alicia Olatuja. The album was produced by Porter and the gifted pianist Kamau Kenyatta.
What makes this album worth listening to besides Porter’s marvelous voice, are the trumpet runs by Keyon Harrold, the drum fills by Keyon’s brother Emanuel, the walking swing bass lines by Aaron James, and the tinkling piano keys by Chip Crawford. The band slays behind Porter’s soaring vocals. My favorites off this record would have to be “Holding On,” the title-track “Take Me To The Alley, and “Insanity (feat. Lalah Hathaway).”
Whether one is in a slump, or on top of the moon, this album will help them rise higher to new levels of musical places. And music does take us to new places, for example reflections of old memories, or new daydreams that carry us away. I know Mr. Porter takes me to a serene place of tranquility whenever I hear this album.
I would have to give this album a 9/10 for its memorable songs and gifted musicians that help make this album an instant jazz classic.
Once again, thanks for reading!