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Romancing the Stage

Gregory Porter returned to Syracuse last week.

Singer Gregory Porter returned to Syracuse last week.

A Gregory Porter concert is a little like the Matrix: We could tell you what it’s like, but you really have to experience it for yourself.

We wrote in a previous post that it’s difficult to classify Porter, but in his vocals one can hear Nat Cole, Ray Charles, Joe Williams and even Donny Hathaway. He effortlessly blends ballads, shout blues and the sacred sounds of the church.

The superstar  jazz singer returned to Central New York Friday for the first time since his appearance at the 2012 Syracuse Jazz Festival.  Earlier in the day he did a clinic for students and also talked about his life’s story.

But the real treat was the show.

From the time they hit the stage at about 7:30 p.m. Porter and his band (Chip Crawford, Emmanuel Harrold, Aaron James and Yosuke Sato) nearly blew the doors off Storer Auditorium.

Porter kicked things off  with the ballad Be Good, and from the first note, a wave of goosebumps washed over the theater. He sprinkled in Liquid Spirit and No Love Dying from his new album, as well as the crowd favorite On My Way to Harlem.

For an encore they poured it on with the bass-driven cut, 1960 What? which  featured Aaron James slapping and literally dancing with his upright instrument.

The music created by the band was spicy like Cajun catfish and Porter’s strong, spiritually connected vocals were smooth like banana pudding.

At the end, most people lingered to soak in the experience, and everyone left satisfied.

WAER-FM 88's Eric Cohen and Jazz Fest Producer Frank Malfitano welcome Gregory Porter to the stage.

WAER-FM 88’s Eric Cohen and Jazz Fest Producer Frank Malfitano welcome Gregory Porter to the stage.

WAER FM-88’s Program Director Eric Cohen said it best when he said that for one night, Syracuse became the center of the Jazz Universe.

Crawford, James, Porter, Harrold and Sato

A great starting five: Crawford, James, Porter, Harrold and Sato

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