May 23, 2024

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CD review: Gregory Porter – Christmas Wish – 2023: Video, CD cover

A Christmas album from Gregory Porter was long overdue and with “Christmas Wish” the wait is over on 3 November 2023.

Gregory Porter’s first festive-themed album, Christmas Wish, features new songs as well as top-notch interpretations of soul and jazz standards by Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington.

Classics such as “Silent Night” create a festive atmosphere, while his own compositions such as the album’s title track add a soulful shimmer to the festive season. A duet with jazz vocal star Samara Joy provides glittering romance. Vocally, Porter is at the peak of his career here and delivers the most beautiful emotional goosebumps.

The festive set also features three original songs by Porter, who is backed throughout the album by his longtime band and produced by his frequent collaborator Troy Miller. The orchestral contributions for Christmas Wish were recorded at Abbey Road. The album features Porter’s interpretations of carols, jazz-age standards and soulful deep cuts from the 1960s, on a track list that includes “Silent Night,” “Little Drummer Boy,” Marvin Gaye’s ‘Purple Snowflakes,” Stevie Wonder’s “Someday At Christmas,” and Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” The latter number has guest vocals by double Grammy-winner Samara Joy.

Porter’s trio of new, self-penned songs includes the title song “Christmas Wish,” “Heart For Christmas” and the album’s first single, the piano ballad “Everything’s Not Lost,” which is now available. released today. That song is a plea by Porter to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. “I’m always thinking of balance,” he says. “That has been instilled in me and it keeps coming up in a lot of my music. At your highest, at your greatest, at your most pleasant time, don’t forget about other people who are suffering.”

With Grammy-winning singer Samara Joy guesting on Porter’s smooth and slick version of Frank Loesser’s What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?, the quality of Christmas Wish is high throughout, a prime example being Porter’s interpretation of Gaye’s Motown festive staple Purple Snowflakes.

As Sly Stone has been out of the public eye since the 90s, his new memoir – Thank You – comes as a welcome surprise, and worth the wait.

The standout track, though, is Porter’s hauntingly beautiful piano-led creation Everything’s Not Lost, an offer of hope to those who are suffering or struggling. As a whole, there is absolutely nothing condescending about Christmas Wish: refreshing, given that modern-day festive albums can be the proverbial turkeys. The heart, soul and conscience displayed here should resonate long after the festivities have finished.

1. Silent Night (3:28)
2. Christmas Waltz (3:22)
3. Everything’s Not Lost (4:09)
4. Someday At Christmas (2:55)
5. Purple Snowflakes (3:45)
6. Little Drummer Boy (2:53)
7. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (3:57)
8. Christmas Wish (3:54)
9. Cradle in Bethlehem (4:14)
10. Do You Hear What I Hear? (3:43)
11. Christmas Time is Here (3:43)
12. Heart For Christmas (4:20)

Gregory Porter, vocals

Gregory Porter - Christmas Wish – Blue Note Records

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