In the eighteen months since Gregory Porter exploded onto the international music scene with his debut album Water’, he has racked up a stream of awards including a best Jazz Vocal Grammy nomination. He has also appeared live on Later’ with Jools Holland, and Jazzwise Magazine voted Water’ the best jazz album of 2011. It includes the politically charged 1960 What’, the video to which has been on constant rotation on music television. The song with its pulsating beat has also become a dancefloor favourite and has been given a sturdier club feel courtesy of Opolopa on his Kick & Bass Re-Rub’
Gregory Porter as narrator, sounding like Amiri Baraka, declares on 1960 What’ that the motor city is burning y’all—that ain’t right’ and refers to Martin Luther King Jr.’s death and describes trigger-happy policing (supported by a trumpet that blares, jabs, rumbles, and yearns), and the song portrays how certain events turn people against the possibilities of life and light. A vision that only recognizes strength and cruelty and rage is dangerously imperfect: rather, creativity, education, intelligence, sensitivity, democratic political participation, and compassionate social work are goals and virtues that can be affirmed, if not actively pursued, in all times.