An artist whose music is at once timeless yet utterly of its time, Gregory Porter solidifies his standing as his generation’s most soulful jazz singer-songwriter with Take Me to the Alley, the much-anticipated follow-up to his sensational 2013 Blue Note debut Liquid Spirit.
Reinforcing their well-honed rapport is the return of Porter’s core accompanying musicians – pianist and music director Chip Crawford, bassist Aaron James, drummer Emanuel Harrold, alto saxophonist Yosuke Sato, and tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. Singer Alicia Olatuja, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and organist Ondrej Pivec also make appearances throughout.
|07/28/16||Gregory Porter||Brooklyn||BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn||Netherlands|
|08/03/16||Kennedy Administration||New York||Groove||United States|
|08/10/16||Kennedy Administration||New York||Groove||United States|
|08/17/16||Kennedy Administration||New York||Groove||United States|
|08/24/16||Kennedy Administration||New York||Groove||United States|
|08/31/16||Kennedy Administration||New York||Groove||United States|
|09/04/16||Grégoire Maret||Detroit||Detroit Jazz Fest||United States|
|11/25/16||ORGANIC quartet||Prague||Jazz Dock||United States|
|11/26/16||ORGANIC quartet||Prague||Jazz Dock||United States|
|11/27/16||ORGANIC quartet||Prague||Jazz Dock||United States|
Everyone who relocates to New York has an account of getting there, being there and making it work. But even among the million variations on the settler’s theme, Ondre J’s story stands out. There aren’t many instances of an Eastern European jazz musician assuming the organist’s chair at an African-American church.
Ondre was, and is, a celebrated keyboardist, composer, recording artist and bandleader from the Czech Republic. On this side of the Atlantic Ocean, he’s also music director and resident organ player at a Gospel Church in Brooklyn.
How a Czech cat who plays Hammond B-3 lands at the pedals in a New York house of worship is a story he’s happy to tell, even as it sometimes strikes him, the person living it, as unbelievable. It’s enough to say that it’s been a ride — one that never stops.
Though based in Brooklyn, Ondre J goes where the music is. He recently toured Europe as a member of the live band for Grammy-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter, having also recorded with Porter in New York on the latter’s 2016 release, “Take Me To The Alley.”
With Porter, Ondre J played venues including London’s storied Royal Albert Hall and the BBC’s celebrated live music show, “Later … With Jools Holland.” These were highlights even for a seasoned player like Ondre J, whose resumé already boasted dates at Glastonbury and North Sea Jazz, an opening slot with Andra Day for r&b star Toni Braxton, performance with the legendary hip-hp group Wu-Tang clan and a tour in front of total of 70,000 people as keyboardist for French pop singer Ayo.
At home, Ondrej J divides his musical time between his church and other projects. He’s also the keyboardist and music director for a swinging, soulful hybrid r&b-jazz-pop band, the Kennedy Administration, that plays a regular weekly gig at Groove in Greenwich Village.
He arrived in the city in 2010 aware of its reputation for swallowing up good musicians or sending them home with tails tucked. But he still had to go through the eye-opening reality of learning to live and thrive here. Six years and countless gigs later, Ondre J is leading a band, playing music with a congregation, picking up tours all over the world — and making his first appearance, courtesy of Porter, on a recording for the venerable Blue Note jazz label.
There’s more to do, as always, and Ondre J is looking ahead with the confidence of someone whose faith in music is being repaid in kind.