My first time back in Koerner Hall in over 2 years and the Gregory Porter band set to perform for me and a sold out audience of festival goers. The band for this performance, Chip Crawford – piano, Emanuel Harrold – drums, Jahmal Nichols – bass, Ondrej Pivoc – Hammond organ, Scooter Brown, alto saxophone.
I have always thought of Gregory Porter as a provider of soulful, spiritual music. The addition of Ondrej Pivoc on the Hammond organ put this performance into the realm of church music with Gregory Porter preaching the gospel of love and peace.
Opening the concert with “Painted on Canvas” Porter sounded in good form, along with the band, who sounded wonderful. The band took to the stage first with Porter following behind moments later and receiving a thunderous applause on taking the stage. The band dug deep and offered up joyous musical backing. They followed that spiritual with “If Love is Overrated” and that set the tone for this musical genius to put on a spectacular show.
Gregory Porter and the band played some of my favourite tunes, including “Liquid Spirit”, “Take Me To The Alley”, “Musical Genocide”, “Hey Laura” and “There Will Be No Love”.
The band lets loose on “Musical Genocide” and I thought the interplay between piano and drums was exceptional. Jahmal Nichols has his moment on this tune as well, he had a smile on his face throughout the concert, on “Musical Genocide” he is in the zone and obviously enjoying the spotlight.
Gregory Porter spoke of loss, love and water under bridges, the audience listened and in some cases responded, offering heartfelt sympathy for Porter’s loss of his brother during the early part of the Pandemic.
Gregory invited the audience to join his band for the encore tune “You Can Join My Band” and the audience did their part by singing along.
A wonderful concert, a spiritual performance and a beautiful way to cap off my 2022 Toronto Jazz Festival.