Charlie Porter
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Charlie Porter

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
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"The Charlie Porter Jazz Show in Enugu By Ovo Adagha Enugu"

Penultimate week, the Charlie Porter Quartet, an American jazz group currently on tour of some selected Nigerian cities, were in Enugu.

The event, which took place at the beautiful pool side of Zodiac Hotels, Enugu, was packaged by the U.S department Of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and is part of a United States initiative called the Rhythm Road, a music abroad program that organizes tours in countries where there is limited exposure to American culture, with the aim of fostering and promoting cultural ties with these countries.

Earlier in the week, the American cultural affairs department had staged a music workshop in conjunction with the Music Society Of Enugu (MUSE) and the Enugu Museum. The workshop, which held at the Museum auditorium, was part of the reception programme for the visiting American music group. It had in attendance a cross-section of music lovers, critics, conservationists, historians, composers and young music scholars. Some of the notable individuals who graced the occasion included: Sir (Engr.) Chris Okoye, Mr Kevin Ejiofor, Prof. Richard Okafor, the museum curator - Dr Abu Edet, some lecturers and music students from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The event proper had all the trappings of a major musical show, especially for the event-starved Coal city elite who turned out en masse at the Zodiac pool side. The performance, indeed, paid tribute to American cultural diversity. The quartet was played with breathtaking virtuosity and a certain sophisticated harmonic sense. The renditions were technically outstanding and could be described as melodically brilliant. As they reeled out their songs, they dazzled the audience with their subtle improvisations, technically, emotionally and intellectually packed.

Through their performance, they were able to demonstrate that jazz music could, as well, go far beyond simple ornamental melody. In striving to develop a sense of rhythm and form, the performers created individual styles of execution characterized by constant syncopation. Songs like 'The Road not taken, Cherokee, Die hard and star dust were served on a platter of excellences.

The group leader, Charlie Porter, was beside himself with his trumpet, literally carrying his squad along on the wings of his brilliant display. Other members of the quartet were Adam Birnbaum- who was pulling fantastic strings on the piano; Joseph Lepore- on the bass guitar and Quincy Davis on the drums. They all exchanged ensemble riffs in a free, strongly rhythmical interplay, with pauses to accommodate instrumental solos.

To any informed music fan who listened to and watched the performance, it appeared that their jazz was still based on the principle of improvisation over a chord progression, but the tempos were faster, the phrases longer and, perhaps, more complex, and the emotional range expanded to include a wide range of human feelings.
It seemed that Charlie Porter Quartet as Jazz musicians have become more aware of themselves as artists and, thus, made little effort to sell their wares by adding vocals, dancing, and other forms of rhythmic syncopation.

The show was, by all predictions, a success and the organizers raised the ante when they invited to the stage a music lecturer from University of Nigeria Nsukka who subsequently thrilled the crowd with native Oja horn. The quartet are currently on tour of other Nigerian cities.

Copyright © 2007 Vanguard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media ( - Vanguard (Lagos)

"Night Out With US Jazz Ambassadors"

If all you know about music is D'banj, Beyonce, Konga, 2face, Mode9 and Weird MC this may definitely not interest you. And what a pity that really is.

An eclectic mix of people were gathered inside the AGIP Hall of the MUSON Centre, Lagos on Tuesday evening to savour the music of the Charlie Porter Quartet. The New York based jazz band was in the country courtesy of the US Embassy in Nigeria. Tuesday's show was organised by the Public Affairs Section of the embassy.

Owing to the demands of being at several places at the same time, our correspondent got to the show late. In fact, the band was on recess when our man got to MUSON Centre.

While informing us that it was a pity that we missed the first half, Tim Gerhadson of the PAS said there was enough in the second half to make for a memorable night. And how right he was.

The quartet, led by Charlie Porter on trumpet, soon proved why it is becoming a steady presence in the New York City clubs and performance venues. Its first offering on the second half was Basin Street Blues. That song is most popular with Louis Armstrong but has been recorded also by Harry Connick Jr. and several others. The second song was Vagaries of a Housecat composed by the band's drummer, Quincy Davis.

Passing Time, Dizzy Atmosphere and C Jam Blues were the last three songs of the second and final set for the night. For the last song, Charlie invited anybody from the audience with an instrument to come jam with the band. Thus came two men on tenor sax. The result may not have been as evergreen as that achieved by Miles Davis with his Kind of Blues album but it was group improvisation in a class of its own. The two Nigerians on sax didn't show any sign that they were not members of the band. No false start and no unforced errors. The night ended with the audience giving the band a series of standing ovations.

A brief bio of the bandleader shows that he is at home with classical music as he is with jazz. It is easy for a discerning ear to know what his immediate influences are. Listening to him that night, he came across as more Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis than Miles Davis. He held his chops like a longtime lover. Muted sounds are expertly created on the trumpet with his hand or proper mute.

The other members of the band are Adam Birnbaum (piano), Joseph Lepore (bass) and Quincy Davis (drums). Together they form a four-man army with sweet, air conditioned music. Sometimes they play slow; sometimes they play fast.

Their tour of Nigeria takes them to Lagos, Enugu and Abuja. They play today at the Ambassador's Residence in Abuja.

Among the people that saw their performance in Lagos were Tunji Sotimirin, Yeni Kuti and Charly Boy's wife Lady Di.
- The Daily Independent

"Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola and the Debut of Charles Porter's "Buddy Bolden Suite" by John Matouk"

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting New York City, jazz
capital of the world. Jazz is such an important part of the city's
cultural life that I never fail to find new musical experiences, even
though I lived there for many years. On this trip I hit Jazz at
Lincoln Center's recently completed complex in Manhattan's
Columbus Circle, a widely praised addition to New York's music
scene. It includes the Frederick P. Rose Rose Hall ("The House of Swing") and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Dizzy's is a more traditional jazz club with nice sightlines, good food, and a stunning view of Central Park providing the backdrop.

I visited Dizzy's on a Monday night for the Upstarts! program, an evening of music by rising jazz artists. On the bill was The Charles Porter Septet performing their Lincoln Center debut of "The Buddy Bolden Suite" along with other original pieces.

Porter, a trumpeter and composer, received grants to compose the Bolden suite from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The spirited performance told the story of Bolden's mysterious and tragic life in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century. The band played with punch and precision, and is definitely a septet to keep an eye on.


Charlie Porter outlined a simple goal: to write jazz that listeners would find interesting but could also tap their feet to.

The modest statement translated into unerringly fine music Tuesday night for the concert debut of the New York-based Charlie Porter Septet. Porter's music is appealing, tuneful and well organized, with an imaginative knack for mixing jazz styles with Latin and blues. Upbeat and genuine, the tunes sport colorful titles. And in their local premieres, they were played by a tight, high-energy group of versatile soloists: four 'horns' (saxes, trumpet and trombone) and rhythm section (piano, bass and drums). Hearty applause throughout the Jazz Arts Music Society (JAMS) concert welcomed home Porter, a native West Palm Beach trumpeter, bandleader and composer.

Porter's excellent stylish playing draws you in; you hang on each note, following his train of thought. Of the 10 tunes, seven were originals, plus arrangements of The Big Top and Loose Duck from the Marciac Suite by Porter's teacher at The Juilliard School, Wynton Marsalis.

Pianist Dan Kaufman, after swinging Dixieland style in Porter’s Stomp, switched to South American salsa in Mr. C.P. (title borrowed from John Coltrane's Mr. P.C.). Trombonist Paul Olenick, with edgy intensity, would slide from the horn's sub-basement to its roof.

By the end of Porter's Instinct, with its rollicking, asymmetrical rhythm, the crowd was on its feet.

In the moody Infinite Pursuit, Porter mixes complex shadings that go far beyond the standard primary colors. Drummer Peter Van Nostrand, who never let three measures pass without a quirky side comment on the proceedings, doubled as Greek chorus.

But this showpiece starred the four horns. On soprano sax, Arun Luthra took high-flying risks, adding tension in true improvisational style. You hardly noticed as tenor saxophonist Julius Tolentino eased you from hot to boiling until you felt the steam.

Of three slow ballads, the haunting Brownie, honoring Clifford Brown, featured the horns' great warm blend. Janine - with one verse of lyrics crooned by Porter - is a mournful, yearning beauty. But one of the evening's hits was The Stealing Cry, Luthra's arrangement of TV's The Price is Right theme as a surprisingly dreamy, soulful ballad.

Not everything worked. Porter Leaps In, so well-played on the septet's sampler CD (on his Web site and sold at the concert) limped a bit. Two ragged endings dissolved into mush.

But in the encore, C-Jam Blues, bassist Joseph LaPore soloed with lyrical ease and Porter wailed away in down-and-gutsy fanfares.
- The Palm Beach Post

"Travelling the “Rhythm Road”: Jazz Ambassadorship in the Twenty-First Century"

see link - All About Jazz

"The Charlie Porter Quartet in Colombo"

Charlie Porter led his posse of three across the richly verdant mainstream of Jazz on a smoking ride that generated a plume of goodwill and positive diplomatic fallout far more engaging and piquantly fragrant than any maneuver Washington could ever accomplish. Indubitably the initiative came from the State Department in DC, but, as has been repeatedly proven by many before, Dizzy Gillespie, Ellington, Brubeck et al, and even as compellingly argued by Terrence Ripmaster in his superlative biography of the VOA Jazz host the late Willis Conover, the ‘freedom principle’ inherent in the music so inadequately termed “jazz”, has reached hearts far more effectively than a thousand speeches on the White House lawn!

This tour is somewhat disarmingly entitled “Rhythm Road” and is under the aegis of Jazz @ Lincoln Centre, NY, and with the leader Charlie Porter playing trumpet, were Adam Birnbaum –Electric Piano, Scott Richie –Bass, and Jon Wikan –drums. Two nights successively in the humid tropical zone of the “Breeze Bar” at Cinnamon Grand on Saturday and Sunday, aficionados were treated to a straight-ahead and genuine performance in the context of the rich diversity that has come to be de rigueur as far as this African-American epoch has encompassed in the past century.

Porter was at pains to explain in his introduction to his original, the opening “Initiation Song”, that it was based on a fragment of melody that came from a source as far removed from his own backyard as Down Under among the Aboriginal people, and, like his predecessors in the realm, he too has absorbed and developed upon the subtleties and influences of disparate cultures to create his own sphere of reference. It worked winsomely. The song had a charming 9/8 feel to it, and a pedal bass in the initial statement, with lots of rhythmic subtleties from Jon Wikan. But come the improvised choruses, Porter’s Quartet gave evidence of an emotional centre that seemed to rest on a Hard-Bop edge, and, by and large that energy seemed to prevail over most of the four sets played over the two evenings.

Considering that this group’s average age is in the early 30’s, and given that the Hard-Bop phenomenon appeared in the middle 1950’s, fostered by the likes of drummer li’l Buhaina (a.k.a. Art Blakey) and his cohort, it is quite impressive that Charlie Porter and his men have been able to capture it in their hearts and minds and yet deliver it as part of their own oeuvre. In the too few original works that were played, one was able to note the signal elements that led to this conclusion; witness the “Messenger”, which, not at all surprisingly was dedicated to the memory of Buhaina, who for more than 40 years led his “Jazz Messengers” as a trail-blazer and as a nurturer of some of the most outstanding talent to have come out of this music, including the renowned and equally ubiquitous Marsalis brothers!

On a ballad, “Janine”, Porter again demonstrated his skill as a worthy composer. Poignant arching lines that recalled the melodic approaches in Benny Golson’s [Another Blakey alumnus] “I Remember Clifford”. Oh! That Birnbaum had an actual acoustic piano (or at least the sound of one on his electric keyboard) to take us through his ramifications on that theme!! Sadly, the electric piano was a poor substitute on this tune, although one appreciates the limitations placed upon an itinerant musician.

The spontaneity and compass of these musicians came to the fore in two outstanding selections; one was derived from a phrase tootled by a young man in the audience, when the trumpeter invited someone to suggest a tune that they could “jam” on. Porter picked out this boppish phrase, transferred it to his horn and from it created a telling tour de force I could do no better than name “Cinnamon Jam”, performed without any previous rehearsal, complete with harmonized parts also spontaneously improvised and fitted beautifully by the other players! It spoke volumes for the kind of adaptability and that same ‘freedom principle’ alluded to above. A veritable prescription for sustainable democracy –no bullets and no irksome ballot either!! The other was a transparently fun version of “Lovay Samaa” [Long associated with Gypsies’ Sunil and his friends], which this group projected toward a completely different plane with a superlative bounce and verve that would garner the envy of those cats at “Preservation Hall” on St.Peter Street in New Orleans!!

Charlie Porter has a tone and phrasing that lies somewhere between the ebullience of Woody Shaw and that of the deft Lee Morgan; in their version of some of the well known tunes like Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” [adjusted to “Colombo” instead of Tunisia!] this somewhat insistent and almost percussive Shaw-like playing became evident, while in the ballad, as well as on Davis’ “Milestones” it was closer to the Morgan mark. I was most impressed by the diminutive Jon Wikan for his role as a listening drummer, artfully and artistically responsive to all that takes place musically, but possessed of a fire and controlled power with it. The same goes for bassist Richie who plays an instrument that is quite unusual visually – it appears to be sawn off, leaving just the top two-thirds of a double bass! Such are the innovations that itinerant musicians benefit from as they travel across the spaces with their basses on planes and buses! - The Colombo Times (Sri Lanka) by Arun Dias Bandaranaike

"Boundless Creativity in Music by Mahes Perera"

Music lovers especially those who enjoy their music in the 4/4 rhythm of jazz will be happy to hear that through the auspices of the American Centre and The Rhythm Road American Music Abroad, the acknowledged Charlie Porter Quarlet will perform in Galle and Colombo at the end of May and early June. The Quartet comprises the leader Charlie Porter - on trumpet, Adam Birnbaum - piano, Scott Ritchie - bass and Jon Wikan drums.

The Quartet which was formed in 2005 is well known for its smooth interpretation of standards as well as their original music which has earned them the label of “boundless creativity and imagination”. The group’s successful communication with their many global audiences has resulted in glowing reviews for being true jazz ambassadors like Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. In their travels they have spread their vibes to a variety of communities and have fostered cultural exchanges with local musicians and audiences.

In keeping with this objective the Charlie Porter Quartet’s programme in Sri Lanka includes a performance at the Galle Karapitiya Faculty on May 31 at 6.00 p.m. and two workshops at Halle de Gaulle for students and music teachers on June 1. In Colombo the Charlie Porter Quartet will conduct a workshop on June 2 at the Visual and Performing Arts University and also another one at a different location on May 30.

Trumpeter and composer Charlie Porter has worked with Paquito D’Rivera, Peter Erskine and Joe Zawinul and has a wide approach to music which incorporates many genres. His trumpet sound is warm and evocative and recently he was commissioned by Chamber Music America to compose the Buddy Bolder Suite for his jazz septet.

A student of the Julliard School be continued his studies as a Fullbright Scholar at the Paris Conservatory and at the Manhattan school of Music where he received his master’s of music.

Adam Birnbaum pianist has worked with Greg Osby, Al Foster and Wynton Marsalis and has frequented Village Vanguard and the Blue Note. Bassist Scott Ritchie has performed with the Sarasota Opera Orchestra, Ebony Ensemble and the Jazz Mandolin Project. Jon Wikan - drummer is an active clinician/instructor who plays modern, mainstream jazz that is energetic, dynamic and swinging. - The Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka)

"A lesson in Jazz with Charlie Porter by Sarabjit Jagirdar"

Dhaka, June 17 -- The band was getting ready; it was a show for a limited audience at Alliance Francaise de Dhaka on June 6. Frontman and trumpeter Charlie Porter sat for the interview with a deshi flute in hand. He bought it from the streets. "Jazz is all about incorporating new sounds," said Porter.

The previous day (June 5) Charlie Porter Quartet had played at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy; the show was open to all. The quartet played a cover of DL Roy's "Dhonodhanye Pushpey Bhora" at the BSA concert - that gesture naturally won over the audience.

Porter and his band performed in Bangladesh as part of The Rhythm Road programme. Rhythm Road artistes are musical ambassadors, reaching beyond concert halls to interact with other musicians and the general public. Prior to the shows in Bangladesh, Charlie Porter Quartet had toured West Africa West Africa

Porter fondly recalled jamming with local musicians in Hyderabad, India.

"We had plans to interact with Bangladeshi musicians as well but because of the [Nimtoli] tragedy, we couldn't hold a workshop in Dhaka," Porter said.

Other members of the quartet are Adam Birnbaum (piano), Scott Ritchie (bass) and Jon Wikan (drums). The quartet was formed by Porter in 2004. Birnbaum has been in the group since the beginning. Other joined later.

How does Porter define the quartet's music? "We all write music. We're all for new compositions but grounded in tradition. Usually we play standards (jazz terminology for covers). There's an impression that one has to be a music connoisseur to appreciate jazz; that's not necessarily true. Lately jazz musicians
have been exclusively playing their own compositions. In the 1920s and '30s when jazz was catching on, musicians were playing popular music," responded Porter.

"It's high time jazz musicians reconnect with the mainstream/ bigger audience. Herbie Hancock did that with 'River: The Joni Letters,' which won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

"Jazz has 3 main elements: blues, swing and improvisation. The latter gives jazz its edge. You can virtually incorporate any element from any musical style into jazz," he added.

"Initiation Song," one of Porter's compositions, features elements from the Australian Aboriginal music. "To be able to create a great fusion piece, you have to have respect for both genres that you're taking as sources. You can't water it down," Porter said.

In the spirit of demonstrating the adaptability of jazz, Porter scatted a few bars of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face."

"In jazz, music comes first and words, second; that's what sets jazz free," said Porter. - The Dhaka Courier


"Initiation" The Charlie Porter Quartet, released 2010



Since trumpeter Charlie Porter formed his quartet in 2005, the group has been steadily forging a strong reputation on the international jazz circuit and in NYC venues. Throughout their travels, they have gained experience in communicating their music to a wide variety of communities and fostering cultural exchange with local musicians and audiences. As one of the resident groups in Carnegie Hall's "Musical Connections" program, they play an active role performing community concerts in the NYC area.

The quartet was recently selected by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the U.S. Department of State in 2010 to tour South East Asia this summer as part of the Rhythm Road American Music Abroad program. Previously in 2007, the quartet traveled to five countries in Western Africa under the same program.

Charlie received his training at The Juilliard School and was the first to win the National Trumpet Competition in both the jazz and classical divisions. As a composer, he has been commissioned by Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and has worked with noted musicians such as Paquito D'Rivera and Joe Zawinul.