Jennifer Porter

Music Reviews

...It's amazing how an artist can conjure so much emotion with such precision. This is Jennifer's artistry...Great music can take you deep into your own soul and Jennifer's music is more than great...Jennifer is in the league of writers who reach deep within and create songs that ultimately help us define our own humanity...Get in line and get your copy of THESE YEARS. This is more than a collection of songs. It is a masterpiece. -PLEASEPASSTHEINDIE.com

“It is obvious that Jennifer has a beautiful voice, a real feeling for vintage lyrics and the ability to swing at every tempo… Audiences love her simple and effective delivery, her phrasing, and the beauty of her voice.” -Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers

"Jennifer Porter’s strong and silky voice and picturesque lyrics create a sense of serenity…so light some candles, and settle down into relaxation…” -Sheri Dyer, Florida Newspapers

“Blessed with a beautiful voice and an infectious musical spirit... Jennifer simply swings, does not waste a note, and every sound she creates is lovely... (She) always uplifts the classic material she sings, making it sound both timeless and new.” –Scott Yannow author of The Jazz Singers

“Jennifer is wonderful!” –Mark Landesman, WWOZ, New Orleans, LA

"The singing, the musicianship, and song selections are outstanding!" - Bob Collins, WRHU, Hempstead, NY

"Wow!  VERY NICE!"  - Bob Bittner, WJIB, Boston, MA  

"This woman is a wonderful Jazz vocalist.  I thoroughly enjoyed her singing from a number of levels."  - Gary Alderman, WORT, Madison, WI

“Jennifer Porter is an incredibly talented woman. We are lucky to have someone of her caliber living right here in our own state where we can listen to her at any time.” –Chris Darling, WMPG, Portland, ME

“Jennifer Porter is a show-stopper!” -Maine Sunday Telegram

"Wow, what a voice!  Every time she approached the microphone to sing, a hush fell over the audience. No one wanted to miss a note.” -Casco Bay Weekly

“Jennifer Porter sings with beauty and grace.” -Journal Tribune

“A fantastic, beautiful voice..." -York County Star

Cadence Magazine

There is nothing innovative about JENNIFER PORTER’s EASY LIVING [Cougar Moon Music 004] but it is fresh. Ms. Porter has chosen her repertoire well [Easy Living/The Very Thought of You/Nice Work if You Can Get it/Crazy He Calls Me/But Not For Me/The Best Things in Life are Free/Gone With the Wind/Yesterdays/I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm/I Cover the Waterfront/Travlin’ Light/You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To/Where or When] as it complements her nice, somewhat smokey and distant, voice. And while she sings many of the songs associated with Billie Holiday there is no attempt to emulate her, she seems her own person. Her back-up [Sonny Barbato-p/Jim Lyden-b/Les Harris-dms/Matt Langley-sax/Jason Anick-vln/Vinny Raniolo-gtr] frequently steps out for solos that compliment the 1940s mood of the music. If you’re in the mood to be wooed it is a good bet this will do it.

Other JENNIFER PORTER recordings on Cougar Moon Music are HYACINTH BOY BLUE [77131], a collection of originals [circa 1997] in a mellow folkish pop vein backed by an acoustic quintet. Songs with impressionistic prose of wanting, introspection and love; touches of Joni Mitchell and Laurie Anderson.

A 2012 recording finds her again as a jazz singer on THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT [Cougar Moon Music 003]. Again the repertoire is standards [The Way You Look Tonight/There’s a Small Hotel/Sophisticated Lady/I’ll Get By/A Foggy Day/Don’t Explain/No Greater Love/Ain’t Misbehavin’/ I’m Beginning to See the Light/Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man/Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms] many of them beautifully handled in fresh interpretation. As with Easy Living, Porter delivers this material with an effortless suspended sincerity. Porter backs herself on piano and is joined by a small and tasteful combo which includes, among others, saxman Matt Langley (who has been a regular with Charlie Kohlhase) Trent Austin[tpt] and Kevin Barry [gtr].

Jennifer Porter also appears, as singer and pianist, on 40 WEST [Cougar Moon 79344735112] the original motion picture soundtrack recording for which she both composed and performed the music. The offering is made up mostly of soul-full, blues-tinged, new age-y piano deliberations. This obviously is a multi-talented woman with a wide range of musical ability and deserves to be more on the radar. But as concerns this column it is her two jazz vocal recordings [CM 003 & 004]which deserve one’s attention as there is magnificence there.

 

Film Reviews & Awards

“Ida & Doob's simple and poignant piano score composed and performed by Porter is essential to the success of the film.” -Journal Tribune

“Jennifer Nichole Porter is GREAT!  (as Lila in Mr. Barrington)” -Indie Promos

“(In Mr. Barrington) Lila's strength playing against her frailty -- what a fine line to walk! Miz Jennifer is so talented and excruciatingly beautiful.  Haunting, etherial and earthy all at once.” -Lynn Siefert, playwright (LITTLE EGYPT, COYOTE UGLY) and screenwriter (COOL RUNNINGS, COUSIN' BETTE.)

“Mr. Barrington is a deeply introspective film with an intriguing premise and a strikingly sensitive performance 
by screenwriter/star, Jennifer Nichole Porter.” -Brunswick Times Record

“The story is intriguing, and the music haunting...Lila is portrayed by Porter with wonderful perfection” -Tom Keene, Casco Bay Weekly

“Ms. Porter's performance is flawless, and up with the best.” - Marty Meltz, Portland Press Herald

“Porter's score is beautiful.” - Christopher Smith, Bangor Daily News

"Lila is beautifully portrayed by the talented Jennifer Nichole Porter, who also wrote the screenplay and the hauntingly romantic piano score. Her acting is stunningly sympathetic." - Mary Whipple, Amazon.com

“Porter makes for a formidable, if deeply bruised heroine…Her Maeve displays a patiently watchful inner strength; even at her most vulnerable, she holds onto a coiled agency.” -Dennis Perkins, Imagine Magazine

Independent Music Awards Nominee - Best Jazz With Vocals Album, Easy Living

Prestige Film Festival – Winner!

Gold Award: Leading Actress

Gold Award: Original Score

Gold Award: Original Song (Skin and Bone)

Silver Award: Writer/Script

 

The Accolade Competition - Winner!

Award of Merit: Leading Actress

Award of Merit: Original Score

Jennifer Porter and The Glenn Miller Orchestra

{Performing with The Glenn Miller Orchestra was} singer Jennifer Porter who joined the band for several selections and sang as if she was right where she belonged. “Pennies From Heaven” was a highlight, with the singer employing her sweet upper range as a chorus of five clarinets filled in behind her. “What a Difference a Day Makes” had her digging deep into her soulful side. “I Won’t Dance” had the sometimes-actress getting playful as the band accentuated the spirit behind the lyrics.

PLEASEPASSTHEINDIE.com

Jennifer Porter - 'These Years"

November 2, 2018

Jennifer Porter is an award-winning musician, actor and screenwriter. Jennifer has sung with Classical and Jazz Orchestras including the world famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. She is also an accomplished Blues pianist who has played with C.J. Chenier, Nathan and The Zydeco Cha-Chas and Ils Sont Partis. Jennifer was the first vocalist in Maine inducted into the prestigious musical honor society, Pi Kappa Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both musical performance and academics. Her album Easy Living (2014), with Grammy-Winning producer, Lawrence Manchester, was nominated for a 2015 Independent Music Award in the Jazz With Vocals category, and was heard on jazz stations around the country, including KJAZZ in Los Angeles, WWOZ in New Orleans, and Public Radio International’s Jazz.  Jennifer has recorded 7 albums and will be releasing her newest album, “These Years,” recorded with Legendary producer Jay Newland, on December 7th.  “These Years” consists of five original songs by Jennifer and five covers of songs by The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Bobby Sharp.  Her five original songs are a remarkable contribution to the Roots/ R & B stage and include: Road to Redemption, These Years, My Secret Desire, Skin and Bone, and For You.
 

 “These Years” is a gorgeous song that opens up like a fine bottle of wine with a smooth and tasteful melodic guitar solo that Jennifer hums above.  Jennifer enters singing with an angelic tone that is mellow and inviting.  When she summits her alto range, the depth inside her soul resonates with a heart-warming timbre. As the song moves forward, she gently moves the listener’s emotions causing the most discerning music lover’s ears to wake up from the slumber of cookie cutter songs and enter her world of substance. “These eyes are beloved. How adored this face I see. How the lines marks acts of kindness and years of worry spent on me.”   “These Years” is about gratitude and redemption. A sax solo by Andy Snitzer picks up on the melodic content beautifully adding to the sultry flavor of the song.
 

“My Secret Desire” could be a jazz standard.  It is an enormous compliment to any writer to hear that others will want to cover their work and “My Secret Desire” sounds like it is already a classic.  It’s a mid-tempo song with a nice swing.  “I want to play the fool.  I want to make you smile.  I want to be the warm breeze sensuous and mild that billows through your heart as we make our way home.” There is a Smokey folk flavor in the mix and Charlie McCoy’s harmonica solo picks up on Jennifer’s roots sensibilities and brings it home.  His playing is so articulate and expressive that one could mistake his mouth harp for a wind instrument. This is some of the best harmonica playing I have ever heard.
 

“Skin and Bone” is a blues-rock number and Jennifer owns it. An old-school vibe is created by the masterful John Deley on keyboards. Mid-way through the song John plays a juicy keyboard solo that gets your body up and swaying. The keys are complemented by nice syncopated guitar and a walking bass line that holds it all together. A big kudos to the in-the-pocket rhythm section consisting of drummer Tony Mason and bassist Ira Coleman who glue everything together. Jennifer opens singing, “It’s criminal baby, how much it hurt to be with you.” Fans of jazz, roots, folk and blues will fall in love with Jennifer’s artistic interpretations that aim for subtle nuance.  In addition to the keyboard solo, Sherrod Barnes plays a swampy guitar solo that cuts through the thick mix. Skin and Bone is about feeling out of place in your own space and questioning your choices.

“For You” captures beauty from the first note to the last. Jennifer is in her element with a sultry, gorgeous ballad that you can hear the steam rise off of. There is something about her voice that is hard to put your finger on, but the word that comes to my mind is “pure.”  She can pull-off a tonal softness with tremendous strength and that is a hard thing to do.  Each verse starts with “For you.”  My favorite verse is “For you, I’ll forgive the world. And work at being kind. Week by week, I will see it through. For you, my dear. For you.“ It’s amazing how an artist can conjure so much emotion with such precision.  This is part of Jenifer’s artistry. She can get under your skin with subtle articulation. “For You” is a beautiful love song that will bring you to tears. Ultimately it is about a love strong enough to conquer the outside world and in today’s world that is powerful.

Great music can take you deep into your own soul and Jennifer’s “Road to Redemption” is more than great, it is a break out hit waiting to happen. “Broken down on the road to redemption so far from home. Lost my way. Fell to my knees. Now I’m lost on the road to redemption. Broke down on the road to redemption.“ Back-up vocals add excellent support giving the song a touch of gospel. The arrangement has such a nice, slow groove that the music feels like honey. My favorite song on the album, and one that can match any of the chosen cover songs, “Road to Redemption” is Grammy material and places Jennifer in the league of writers who reach deep within and create songs that ultimately help us define our own humanity.

Get in line and get your copy of “These Years.”  This is more than a collection of songs, it is a masterpiece.

For more information on Jennifer Porter, please visit her website

The Indie Spoonful

Jennifer Porter - "These Years"

November 6, 2018

Tree Fortin

Jennifer Porter is an award-winning musician, actor and screenwriter. She has sung with the world famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. As an accomplished blues pianist, she has played with C.J. Chenier, Nathan and The Zydeco Cha-Chas, and Ils Sont Partis.  She has  been heard on jazz radio including KJAZZ in Los Angeles, WWOZ in New Orleans and Public Radio International’s Jazz After Hours. No stranger to awards, Jennifer has received many accolades for her work including:  a nomination for a 2015 Independent Music Award in the  “Jazz with Vocals” category; The Accolade Competition (Award of Merit for Acting and Original Score), a Gold Prestige Awards for Acting and a Silver Prestige Award for Original Screenplay.  Jennifer starred in, and composed and performed the film score for BALLAD OF IDA AND DOOB (1999) and wrote, starred in, and composed and performed the film scores for the critically acclaimed MR. BARRINGTON (2003) now available in several languages, and the multiple award-winning 40 WEST (2011).  To date,  Jennifer has recorded 7 albums. Her latest release “These Years” consists of five original songs by Jennifer and five covers of songs by The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Bobby Sharp.  The title track is just one of many great performances..  

Putting yourself out there and revealing who you are when you are most vulnerable is an act of courage.  Doing it with grace, tenderness and artistic integrity is a triumph.  Jennifer Porter’s “These Years” achieves both.  “These Years” is a song about taking stock of how you treated a person you love and being honest with yourself.  “He smiles, and my heart breaks. How could I ever have caused him pain?”  After taking stock, if you realize that you have regrets and were not as kind as you should have been, then you vow to make changes and do better. “Oh time help me find a way to be forgiving. For these years have been unkind.”  In its’ essence, “These Years”, is Jennifer’s absolution; regret turned to self- forgiveness turned to love.  It is introspective, honest and compelling. 

So how does one communicate and share the complexity of emotions in “These Years”?  For Jennifer Porter, it is through vocal and song-writing refinement.  Jennifer's vocals capture complex feelings in a way that moves emotional mountains.  In “These Years,” her voice is soothing and beautiful as if she is caressing each word with such a tenderness that I would be surprised if listeners did not get a lump in their throat and tears in their eyes.  Jennifer knows that achieving this is not about belting it out, but about self-awareness as a singer because it comes from within and from excellent vocal technique and experience.  Communicating musically with great technique and turning that technique into something emotionally powerful yet subdued, refined and restrained is art.  Jennifer’s jazz-tinged R&B vocals are truly stellar.  She is an artist.

In addition to her powerful vocal delivery, the musicianship on “These Years” deserves recognition. “These Years” was produced by the legendary Jay Newland.  The musicians on the song include John Deley - keyboards; Adam Levy - guitar; Ira Coleman - bass; Tony Mason - drums; and Andy Snitzer on Saxophone.  The fine musicians on this song know how to create a groove, make an instrument weep and support a singer of Jennifer’s caliber.

“These Years” is just one of the amazing songs that can move mountains on Jennifer Porter's stand-out new CD.   To learn more about Jennifer Porter, please visit her website.

Tags:

Jennifer Porter

These Years

Blues Magazine Netherlands

Jennifer Nicole Porter is een gelauwerd muzikant, acteur, scenarioschrijver en is vooral ook strijdlustig. Deze oogstrelende jonge dame heeft een tweedegraads zwarte band in Tai Jujitsu en heeft daarvoor een voortgezette opleiding gevolgd in Kali en Jeet Kun Do. Een mooiere en krachtigere introductie kan je niet bedenken.

Als muzikant stond Porter al op zeer jonge leeftijd voor grote klassieke en jazzorkesten te zingen, waaronder het wereldberoemde Glenn Miller Orchestra. Als acteur en scenarioschrijver schreef en speelde Porter mee in speelfilms als Ballad Of Ida And Boob (1999), het bekroonde Mr. Barrington (2013) en last but not least 40 West(2011). Voor haar acteer- en scenariowerk in deze speelfilm ontving Porter prestigieuze onderscheidingen.

Jennifer Porter nam tot dusver zes albums op en komt op 7 december 2018 met haar zevende release ‘These Years’. De geluidsdrager zal worden uitgebracht door het in Maine gevestigde Cougar Moon Music en bevat tien liedjes die de randen van Soul, Blues en Roots muziek opzoeken. ‘These Years’ moet gezien worden als Porter’s vertrek uit de Jazz en film scene. Wat natuurlijk overblijft is Jennifer Porter’s beeldige aanwezigheid en weelderig stemgeluid.

Rock Times

Jennifer Porter / These Years – CD-Review

Erstaunlich!
Jennifer Porter veröffentlichte schon sechs Alben. Laut ihrer Website erschien "Hyacinth Boy Blue" bereits im Jahr 1996. Auf der Basis des Blues brachte sie 2012 den Original Soundtrack zum Film "40 West" auf den Markt. 2013 sang sie auf "The Way You Look Tonight" Jazz-Standards und für "Easy Living" (2014) wurde die Künstlerin für den Independent Music Award nominiert. "Moonglow", eine drei Lieder umfassende EP und "Mr. Barrington", der entsprechende Soundtrack zum Film, sind weitere Tonträger der viel beschäftigten Künstlerin.
Jennifer Porter ist nicht nur Musikerin, sondern auch Schauspielerin sowie Drehbuchautorin. Sie verfügt über eine Ausbildung als Opernsängerin und ebenso am klassisches Piano. Sie war Sängerin im Glenn Miller Orchestra und im Blues-Bereich bringt man sie in Verbindung mit C.J. Chenier, Nathan and The Zydeco Cha-Chas und Ils Sonnt Partis Band. Auf einem ganz anderen Feld kann Jennifer Porterauch noch etwas vorweisen, denn sie »[…] holds a second degree black belt in Tai Jujitsu, and has advanced training in Kali and Jeet Kun Do. […]«
Bei diesen höheren Auszeichnung in diversen Kampfsportarten schreibt man lieber eine gute Review. Der Rezensent kann nur (relativ) schnell schwimmen.

Abgesehen von Coversongs von Van Morrison ("Crazy Love"), The Rolling Stones ("Beast Of Burden"), Bob Dylan ("On A Night Like This"), Tom Waits ("In Between Love") entstand bei "Unchain My Heart" besondere Spannung. Bobby Sharp komponierte den Song und bereits Anfang der Sechzigerjahre war es Ray Charles, der das Lied aufnahm und veröffentlichte. Es folgten wohl unzählige Musiker, die diese Nummer coverten. Am meisten Erfolg dürfte Joe Cocker damit gehabt haben. Nicht Blues, nicht Rock, nicht Country … Jennifer Porters knapp vier Minuten gehen eher in Richtung Jazz, so ein Jazz, wie ihn Sade vertritt. Locker, sehr entspannt wird dieser Klassiker präsentiert. Jennifer Porter haucht die Worte förmlich ins Mikrofon. So kommt einem Sade in den Sinn. Bläser (mit Saxofon-Solo), eine fein-dezente Wah Wah-Gitarre, Dana Packards Congas und Tastenmann John Deley setzen hier Akzente. Eine Interpretation, die auch zeigt, wie toll Jennifer Porter singen kann.

So etwas wie "Unchain My Heart" kann die Amerikanerin auch komponieren. "Skin And Bone" wird wohl nie so ein riesen Hit werden, aber wie gut die Künstlerin komponieren kann, stellt sie nicht erst zum Ende der Scheibe klar. Die Nummer verfügt über mehr Drive, kann abermals mit einem klasse Saxofonisten Andy Schnitzer sowie John  Deley – jetzt auf der Hammond B-3 unterwegs – Punkte sammeln. Begibt sich Jennifer Porter in die tiefere Tonlage, bekommt man eine Gänsehaut. Toller Lounge-Jazz!

Da wird man neugierig, ob sie die anderen Fremdkompositionen auch so individuell anpackt. Immerhin machen die fünfzig Prozent oder die Hälfte der Tracklist aus.
Aus Tom Waits' Gitarren-Ballade macht Jennifer Porter eine Piano-Liebeserklärung. Wie schön verteilte Wassertropfen spielt die akustische Gitarre mit. So zart, so liebevoll, so einfühlsam … einfach hinreißend, diese Interpretation.
Wenn C.J. Chenier auf seinem Akkordeon mitwirkt, dann darf man davon ausgehen, dass Zydeco-Zeit auf der CD angebrochen ist. Okay, der Gast lässt mit seinem Instrument den Schwung des Stils in die Nummer einfließen, aber man hört über die Spielzeit hinweg doch mehr die bluesige Note.
Hey, lass uns schwofen, denn mit einem schon fast frech zu nennenden Charme macht Jennifer Porter das Rolling Stones-Stück "Beast Of Burden" zu einem sich im mäßigen Wind und seichten Wellen wiegenden Reggae als Symbol der Leichtigkeit.
Van Morrisons "Crazy Love" steht ganz am Anfang der Platte. Jetzt geht es in die andere Richtung. Die Version der Protagonistin saugt sozusagen noch mehr Liebe in die Noten, kommt flotter daher und lässt den Soul – verstärkt durch herrliche Backing Vocals – fließen.

Die filigrane Ballade "Road To Redemption" kann man sich auch noch in zehn (oder so) Jahren anhören und genießen. Jennifer Porter scheint sich bei ihren Eigenkompositionen wohl für Balladen entschieden zu haben, denn "These Years" ist ein weiteres Beispiel dafür, wie die Sängerin einen ganz geschickt um den Finger wickeln kann. Kaum merklich ist man schon in ihrem Bannkreis. Diese Scheibe ist definitiv – ohne jemandem zu nahe treten zu wollen – nichts für die Pommesgabel-Fraktion.
Ira Coleman zupft den Kontrabass, Charlie McCoy tupft auf die Vibrafon-Plättchen, spielt später die Harp und Tom Mason streicht mit den Jazzbesen über die Felle. Genau dieses Genre bedient man mit "My Secret Desire".

Wenn es am Ende dann R&B-mäßig "For You" heißt, dann könnte der Songtitel, anders als im Text gemeint, dazu hergenommen werden, um zu verdeutlichen, dass diese Scheibe empfohlen werden kann und durchaus neugierig auf andere Jennifer Porter-Veröffentlichungen macht.

Maine Today, Portland Press Herald

SAY HELLO AGAIN TO JENNIFER PORTER AND SAVOR ‘THESE YEARS’

Written by: Aimsel Ponti 

Cover photo by Dana Packard

Just as it started to get officially chilly and prematurely snowy around these parts, a wonderful new album arrived from local jazz singer Jennifer Porter, and it’s like a warm summer breeze for your ears. “These Years” is Porter’s seventh album in a recording career that dates back two decades, beginning with 1998’s “Hyacinth Boy Blue.”

Before I go any further, let me say that, although I refer to Porter as a jazz singer, it would be a mistake to pigeonhole her as simply that because, as she wrote on her website, “These Years” is heavily influenced by soul, blues and roots music.

What’s more, she’s not just a singer. Porter is also an actress and screenwriter, and she and Dana Packard co-founded The Originals Theatre Company in 1988 and Honey Tree Films a decade later in 1998.

Porter has sung with classical and jazz orchestras, including the legendary Glenn Miller Orchestra, and her own quintet. Her 2015 album “Easy Living” was a nominee for a best independent music award in the jazz-with-vocals category and also received national radio airplay. And if that’s not enough, Porter is a wildly talented blues pianist.

Porter grew up listening to Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys, The Beatles and big band music. Some of her musical influences include Sam Cooke, John Hiatt, Billie Holiday, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and The Neville Brothers. She first started to play the piano when she was 4 years old and the back story is wonderful.

“The first person I saw play the piano live was a woman named Maxine, who was playing at one of my grandparents’ notorious cocktail parties in Belfast,” she said. “She was playing boogie-woogie and blues, and I was fascinated.” Porter was enthralled how an inanimate object could make sure a wondrous sound. “I sat down the next day and began to pick out, by ear, what she had done the night before.” After four more years of playing by ear, Porter’s parents found her a teacher.

Porter moved no less than five times before she was 10 years old, but most of her family is from Belfast. She graduated from Windham High School and currently lives in Buxton.

As for “These Years,” the album is a collaboration with producer Jay Newland (Norah Jones, Richie Havens) whose mantle holds a dozen Grammy Awards. Porter told me that Newland pulled together an all-star band for “These Years.” “They were amazing musicians to work with.” Newland also helped to shape the album thematically. “He saw it as an album about love. He is definitely a master at what he does,” added Porter.

The album features 10 tracks with an even split of originals and covers of songs by the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Bobby Sharp. It also features a crackerjack band that includes special guests Grammy-nominee accordionist C.J. Chenier and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie McCoy on harmonica and vibes. Porter explained that the covers are all songs that she loves and has played live. “I like taking ‘men’s’ songs and reinterpreting their intent from a female perspective. I made rough recordings, just sitting and singing at my piano, of songs that I am partial to and sent them to Jay Newland who gave a thumbs up or down.” It was Newland who suggested she tackle a Tom Waits tune so Porter found the lesser-known “In Between Love.” “These Years” was mixed and engineered by Lawrence Manchester, who is currently the producer and lead music mixer on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” It was mastered by Portland’s Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering. Ayan has mastered 42 Grammy Award-winning recordings, and that number continues to rise.

“These Years” opens on a full-bodied note with the first sound being Charlie McCoy’s harmonica on Porter’s take on Morrison’s “Crazy Love.” Porter’s vocals on this, and on every track on “These Years,” are warm and full while also soothing and pulled me in from the get-go. Porter is a real pro, and there’s a confidence in her singing that is bright. I could tell immediately that the journey the album would take me on would be a gratifying one.

“Crazy Love” gave way to the album’s first original, “Road to Redemption.” “Now I’m lost on the road to redemption/Broke down on the road to redemption,” sings Porter with gorgeous backing vocals from Sharon and Dennis Collins. The song is a hopeful meditation on dusting yourself off and giving yourself a fresh start. Porter said that it and three other originals on “These Years” were written during a particularly prolific week in 2017. “They just fell onto the page and out of my fingers. I feel songs build up in me for a while, that’s generally how the songwriting process goes for me.” She added that sometimes coming up with just the right lyrics can be agony.

Diving a few more tracks into “These Years,” mad props must also be given to Porter for her take on the Jagger/Richards classic “Beast of Burden.” It’s miles away from the original, and she and her band have slowed it down just enough to give it a whole new vibe. “These Years” closes out with the original “For You,” a sweet-as-Maine-maple-syrup love song that has tinges of gospel to it and brings the album in for a light and airy, yet soulful, landing.

The album release show for “These Years” is on Dec. 7. at the Saco River Theatre, and Porter will have copies for sale there that I’m going to go out on a limb and say she’ll be happy to sign for you. You’ll also be able to find it at jennifernicholeporter.com, and all of the usual online spots.

Porter said that two of the musicians who played on the album will be flying in from New York City and Los Angeles for the show: John Deley (Dido) on keyboards and Adam Levy (Tracy Chapman, Norah Jones) on guitar. The bassist on the album, Ira Coleman (Sting, Herbie Hancock), who has been called away on tour, will be replaced by Damon Banks (George Benson, the Neville Brothers). Porter will be at the piano with Dana Packard on drums, Matt Langley on saxophone and, on backing vocals, Porter’s sister, Alicia Miller, and her friends from music school, Wendi Sweet-McPike, and Emily MacKinnon.

Porter’s favorite thing about a live show is the energy of it, she said. “I love making people happy, and I love communicating musically with my fellow musicians. There’s nothing like singing a certain note, or choosing a certain note in a chord, and having the other people you are playing with understand what you are saying to them and having them answer you back. That is one of the happiest things I can think of.”

Keys and Chords Magazine

 
DETAIL ALBUM
​Jennifer Porter is een enorm getalenteerde artieste, die zowel in de jazz, blues, country en zelfs in opera actief is. Ze zong o.a. met het Classical and Jazz Orchestra en het wereldberoemde Glenn Miller Orchestra. Als pianiste stond ze reeds in voor de begeleiding van C.J. Chenier, Nathan & The Zydeco Cha-Chas en Buckwheat Zydeco’s Band. Op ‘These Years’ dat netjes verdeeld is onder 5 originele nummers en 5 covers, laat Jennifer horen dat ze een artieste is met niet alleen een uniek stemgeluid, maar die tevens weet hoe ze haar stem moet aanwenden. Fluweelzacht zet ze die in bij de eerste track, het van Van Morrison geleende ‘Crazy Love’ en de manier waarop ze ‘Beast Of Burden’ tot een laid back bluesjazz getint nummer omvormt, verdient respect. Dylan’s ‘On A Night Like This’ wordt in Porter’s versie, met inbreng van accordeon, dan weer leuke zydeco. Haar eigen composities mogen er evenwel ook zijn. Het trage ‘Road To Redemption’ verraadt meteen haar songschrijverstalent. Dit is ‘easy listening in a positive way’, zo ook in de titeltrack dat een ‘modern soul’ kantje heeft. Zwoel jazzy komt ze uit de hoek in ‘My Secret Desire’, waarna ze ‘Unchain My Heart’ een ietwat exotisch bossa tintje meegeeft.
Jennifer Porter heeft een aangenaam en professioneel klinkende stem. Ze zingt alsof het haar geen tikkeltje moeite kost, iets dat je bij veel hedendaagse zangeressen niet tegenkomt.
Dit alles, in sublieme arrangementen uitgevoerde nummers, maken van ‘These Years’ een album dat nog vaak aanspraak zal maken op mijn afspeelapparaat.
 
Lambert Smits (4 ½)
What a voice and what a repertoire! Jennifer Porter lets blues, zydeco and jazz infiltrate in 5 great own compositions and 5 covers. Covers that become a new song in her version. This is easy listening at top level. Highly recommended!