Riding high on the out of the box success of soul/jazz vocalist Gregory Porter's sophomore release, Be Good, Motema Music has just released a video of the CD's title track, Be Good (Lion's Song.)" The video, which was directed by Pierre Bennu of ExitTheApple Productions, features cinematography by Shawn Peters, who worked with Porter on the two videos from the singer's Grammy nominated CD, Water ("Illusion" and 1960 What?"), and who has also shot videos and short films for Pharoahe Monch, Blitz The Ambassador, and Terence Nance.
Shooting entirely on location in Baltimore, Maryland, director Pierre Bennu visually compliments Porter's intense lyrics and smooth, soulful vocals with vibrant colors and whimsical storytelling, and sets it all against Charm City's unique backdrop. As two lovers traverse their everyday lives amidst the mundane, Bennu draws on the power of everyday magic, the fear of loss, and the yearning for love in what he calls a lullaby for your inner child."
The dance of love is something that can be done alone but it is also fun with somebody else," says Bennu. I wanted to show two characters; one who was so busy dancing alone, never looking to have a partner... and another so desperate for love that he would do whatever it took to get it. What that character finally realizes is that all he needed to offer forth was himself."
To compliment his artistic vision, Bennu tapped the talents of Baltimore-based multidisciplinary visual artist Dirk Joseph, whose 'magical props' add significantly to the video's playful and enchanting sensibility.
Based on the groundwork laid by the volume of positive critical and public response to his 2010 'Best Jazz Vocal' Grammy®- nominated debut CD Water, Be Good has been met with a spate of critical and commercial success. The track Real Good Hands" was selected by iTunes as its Single of the Week, propelling the track to the #1 position on iTunes jazz chart for two weeks, and sending it soaring into the Top 100 overall album chart the first week of release. In the month since Be Good dropped, the CD has drawn critical raves from the likes of Soul Tracks, who declared, Porter fuses jazz and soul better than anybody working these days... We are only one month into 2012 and we may have already heard the album of the year. Very Highly Recommended." The site also ranked Be Good as the #1 CD, based on Amazon sales, for the month of February.
In its four and a half star review of Be Good, Downbeat stated, In addition to Porter's superb songsmany of which have the potential to be this century's new jazz standardsBe Good comes alive because of the accord he ignites with his band members...Be Good signals the arrival of a great jazz artist with long range staying power. A major jazz talent... A must-have disc."
AllMusic.com added, The '70s soul is still quite apparent in his voice, with shades of Donny Hathaway and Bill Withers, but he's also the vocal heir to Nat King Cole...a major talent, not just as a singer but also as a composer, with a unique, elliptical style, both for melodies and lyrics..."
Be Good's US chart success is mirrored around the globe. In the UK, it reached #2 on the Indie Album Breaker chart and #15 on the Official Indie Album Chart, and in Holland it's currently #21 on the Album chart. In Germany, Be Good's chart position is even more impressive, clocking in at #1 on Amazon's jazz chart (and #20 on Amazon's overall chart) for digital sales, #10 on the Amazon's jazz chart for CD sales, and at #5 on the iTunes jazz chart (with Water sitting in the #10 slot on that chart at the same time.)
Be Good is a musical compendium of groove-driven delights, ranging from quiet ballads to up- tempo burners, from romantic charmers to powerful, blues-tinged anthems. Porter is surrounded by the core of his powerhouse working band, with whom he recorded his Grammy®- nominated debut, and who have performed with him for over three years now: Chip Crawford on piano, Aaron James on bass, Emanuel Harrold on drums, and Yosuke Sato on alto sax. Under the sure hand of producer Brian Bacchus (Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, Joe Lovano, Randy Weston, etc.), Porter and the band rise to new heights on Be Good, which is further fueled by richly emotional horn arrangements by the CD's associate producer and musical director, Kamau Kenyatta.
A disarmingly sincere performer, with a groove that never quits, a voice of incredible virtuosity and a seemingly universal appeal as a songwriter, Porter's lyrics often speak as dreams do, in the languages of image and emotion, to communicate thoroughly though not always directly. His objective as a songwriter, he says, is to create a sincere message about my feelings on love, culture, family and our human joys and pain." Even in conversation he leans toward the poetic: Just like the song 'Painted on Canvas' says, 'I'm 'made of the pigment of paint that is put upon' ...trying to be honest and organic in my colors that I show." Be Good clearly attains that goal, and also proves to have a wide palette of colors to show.
Porter is currently on tour to support Be Good, with US dates in March and April, UK and Europe in May, June and July, and additional US dates through the fall.