This is a great swinging toe-tapper of an album. After an interesting 2012 debut album 'Can't Keep Still', Gary Porter follows up with a terrific ten track album made up of a mixture of dance jazz, cool big band and even a little ska/reggae.
The new big line up totals eleven, all consummate musicians and everyone getting to play a part in the carefully arranged numbers. The jazz influence is particularly notable when the stunning soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones are let loose – especially on the tracks 'Breadline' and ' The Way it Was' but the even-handedness of arrangements is such that organ, piano and harp are all allowed to shine.
If there were to be a video attached to this album, it would surely evoke that great dance band period when the singer fronted a talented band and soloists stood up to take their piece of the action.
One track, with a smart piano intro and organ accompaniment, 'Hand on My Heart' has a great film track appeal, bluesy and cheek-to-cheek. Much of this CD certainly evokes a time when everyone was on the floor to dance and applauded the musicianship. In some respects it is a pity that this was not a live album to give us a bit more of that atmosphere. However, such is the production that you can almost hear the delighted audience response at the end of the 'big band' numbers.
A powerful presence on the album is that of the great rising and flying soul voice of singer Lisa Mills who together with some other backing singers give some real substance and breadth to a number of tracks. This is a beautiful and important element of the album that will certainly increase its air-play possibilities.
This is a smart collection, full of clever jazz phrasing, great individual musicianship, mellow vocals and rhythmic incident. You won't find it filed under a particular heading – but who cares. It is a fine collection of some bluesy, soulful and hip stuff that is hugely entertaining and enjoyable.