Gregory Porter Exclusive Interview – Cheltenham, Blenheim, Glastonbury and New Album

GP-interview

Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter spoke to Jazzwise exclusively and talks about his his performance at Cheltenham Jazz Festival with Laura Mvula this bank holiday weekend on Monday 4 May, as well as his big headline concert on 25 June at Blenheim Palace on a stellar double bill with jazz-blues singer songwriter Van Morrison, and about his eagerly awaited new album

You are set to appear with Van Morrison at Blenheim Palace – a hugely historic venue – what does it mean this to you?

Wow! The view facing away from Blenheim Palace is amazing and then just the Palace itself is amazing; I think this will be the most beautiful venue I have ever done. I grew up listening to Van’s music and so to be billed with him is extraordinary, to have recorded with him and developed a friendship with him – I’m still pinching myself quite frankly. This is a catalyst to something, which is quite extraordinary to me.

How do you think the audience will respond appearing alongside Van Morrison?

I think they will respond quite favourably. The interesting thing with Van’s music is that he straddles across several different genres. He comes across to me as a singer, songwriter, jazz man, blues man, soul man and probably the connection has been made between the two of us – artistically. Even from a promoter’s standpoint, the connection has been made because – I’m not at all putting myself in the same category as Van – but artistically we probably think the same way about music.

Will you be singing with Van Morrison?

It may happen, that’s up to Van – the man. I’m definitely game to do it. But we shall see.

We’ve heard that you have a new album in the works – will it be released later this year?

What kind of material will be on it?

They could release it later on this year; it may be the beginning of next year. I’m not certain when exactly the release date will be. I’m definitely in the formulation of process and we are going into the studio very soon to get it down. I have been writing the material. There will be more writing before the record date which is generally what happens to me once I get a deadline in terms of being in the studio, maybe four or five days before the studio date. Ideas of songs come to me; the feeling of what I want to say comes to me. The record forms as I am in the studio; I don’t go in with a pre-planned idea of what it’s going to sound like or what’s it’s going to be, what the political energy or love energy is going to be on it, it just happens when it happens. I’m organically going to let it be that way again – I look forward to just keep moving that wave.

Will there be any collaborations?

That is yet to be finalised – I’m just going to say maybe! [laughs]

Or covers (or both) on it?

There will be jazz standards. I’m in love with the book of standards and also more obscure songs that have been performed before.

You’re also performing at Cheltenham jazz festival with Laura Mvula performing the music of Gershwin – could you tell me about that project came together?

That project came about when it was proposed to me by some people that were involved in the programming at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. I have come with my band to the festival three times at Cheltenham and they wanted to mix it up. I have several projects that I could have brought to the festival, but this was one that I think we’re going to be joined with the orchestra, it made perfect sense. The Gershwin songbook is deep and long, so there’s plenty of great music to do there. It’s one of the ‘why nots’; like when in your career are you gonna do it? Not why, just when.

Are you looking forward to working with the Orchestra and Laura Mvula?

I am. Laura Mvula she’s a great voice, sensitive voice of unique character. And anytime I get to perform with an orchestra is always exciting to me, because the sound, it’s like, I don’t know, I’ve never been surfing on like a grand scale – but it’s got to be like surfing in front of a giant wave which is kind of just pushing you along – it’s always exciting to be with a big orchestra.

You are booked to play Glastonbury – how do you think that crowd will take to your music?

The audiences are extraordinary. They always come up to me and express themselves and show some appreciation. I’m here in Blenheim and two or three people have already come up and shake hands and say how much they like my music. I’ve had a great time with audiences, even back in New York with people, so I’m sure the audiences will respond well.

And when will you be heading back to the UK to perform?

I’m sure it will be very soon and I’m almost sure it is my calendar already. I don’t keep a faithful knowledge of my diary, I go from day to day and week to week.

– Liv Fernandes

For more info and tickets go to www.nocturnelive.com/tickets and www.cheltenhamfestivals.com

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