Lewis Porter, “People Get Ready” from Beauty & Mystery (Altrisuoni)
Lewis Porter is an acknowledged jazz scholar, with credentials that include several esteemed publications — including indispensable tomes on John Coltrane and Lester Young — and a principal role in the founding of the Masters Program in Jazz History at Rutgers University in Newark. But he’s also a masterful composer and virtuosic pianist, having appeared on roughly 25 albums as a sideman, co-leader or leader.
His latest disc, Beauty & Mystery, finds him in the excellent company of bassist John Patitucci and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, two of the best rhythm partners in jazz. Together, they glide across various strains of the jazz canon— from straightahead to bossa nova to free improvisation — with equal measure authority and wonder.
The standout track “People Get Ready” has a strong gospel influence, with lots of steady percussive movement, clean phrasing and sun-dappled major harmony. The song is clearly informed by Porter’s deep knowledge of the genre, and, like a good sermon, it also has a dramatic arc, beginning with a gentle incantation of the melody, then reaching ecstatic heights as Porter lays his emotions bare during his piano solo. This is a case where profound scholarship breeds profound art.
Feature photo courtesy ©Billy May