Concert Preview: GREGORY PORTER AND SAVION GLOVER (with Vince Mendoza at the Hollywood Bowl)

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by Tony Frankel on August 9, 2018

in Dance,Music,Theater-Los Angeles


Jazz singer Gregory Porter certainly has amassed an impassioned and appreciative audience of all ages and races. But ever since double Grammy-winning composer, actor, and soul, jazz, and gospel song stylist released his latest Blue Note recording, Nat “King” Cole & Me, he cemented himself as a romantic — sophisticated and rich with vocal prowess. This Wednesday night, August 15, Porter’s fabulous tribute to the legendary pop and jazz singer and innovative pianist brings him to the Hollywood Bowl. And if you get a chance to see hime, you’ll know why the concet is selling out.

To help craft his tribute, Porter recorded the album with the terrific arranger Vince Mendoza, who frames the singer’s warm, supple voice with shimmering orchestral arrangements that wouldn’t be out of place during the golden age of ’50s and early-’60s traditional pop. Mendoza, who will be leading the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, will allow Porter to lean nicely into a distinctly old-school sound. While never mimicking Cole’s distinctive style, Porter does straddle the line between evincing the storied artist’s burnished vocal sound, and displaying his own virtuoso talents. (Here’s hoping that Porter also brings his longtime bandmates, pianist Christian Sands, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Ulysses Owens.)

Expect Cole songbook regulars “Nature Boy” and “Mona Lisa” to name a few. And while it may be too hot for “The Christmas Song,” all of the lushly arranged renditions heard through the gloriously updated sound system at the Bowl will envelop listeners with engaging upbeat swingers like “Ballerina” and “L-O-V-E.” After a week of Star Wars in Concert at the Bowl, the cinematic quality will continue in songs such as “Miss Otis Regrets,” where Mendoza’s dramatic, classical-tinged opening quickly settles into an intimate, candlelit reading of the melancholy classic. Porter even applies his vintage-influenced approach to a reworking of his original “When Love Was King.” And for the often recorded Osvaldo Farrés song “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” (aka “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”), Porter will sing entirely in Spanish.

Also on the program will be Savion Glover, who will grace the stage with beats and rhythms from head to toe with a jazz combo. Glover is easily one of the best tap dancers this country has ever produced, both an institution and the rock star of the tap world. Expect to be amazed and enlivened, but don’t expect a tuxedo-clad man with top hat and cane gliding across a shiny floor to an Irving Berlin standard when you witness his virtuosic display. Ever since the wunderkind tap dancer made his Broadway debut at the age of 12 in The Tap Dance Kid, this indefatigable 44-year-old has come to define tap for a modern generation. Known especially for his Tony-winning choreography of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk (1995), which ran on the Great White Way for 1135 performances, this hoofer came into being during the age of Stomp, a world-wide phenomenon that thrilled audiences with nothing more than the pounding clickety-clack of young athletic rhythmists using everyday objects. Glover tends to improvise in his shows, so the jazz musicians and he will offer a never-to-be-seen-again set.

This performance is preceded by Winemaker Wednesday: Get to the Bowl early for a complimentary wine tasting from 5–7pm in the Plaza Marketplace featuring some of California’s hottest vintners, hand-selected by the James Beard Award–winning director of our wine program, Caroline Styne.

photos courtesy of LA Phil; headshot photo by Christian Fatu

Gregory Porter: Nat “King” Cole & Me
Vince Mendoza and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
with Savion Glover
presented by LA Phil
The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 at 8pm
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit The Hollywood Bowl

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