Gregory Porter is a jazz singer of the first order. Born in Los Angeles, based in Brooklyn, and currently signed to Blue Note Records, Porter brings me hope in a musical world that does not often reward or recognize true artistic greatness. In our moment, greatness is not a part of popular life. Our Tatums, Coltranes, and Monks have so little visibility. Indeed, it is simply amazing that Porter is almost not obscure, almost coming out of the night, almost at the edge of pop life. In 2012, his "Real Good Hands" was nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the Grammys, and the brilliant fame of the winner of that award, Beyoncé, made Porter's voice, face, beard, and curious headgear suddenly bright, like sunlight on the moon. Porter not only stands out as a jazz singer, but is intelligent without being difficult or complicated, soulful without being retro, original without being bizarre. He is completely honest, and yet there are also warm reserves of mystery on the horizon where the floating style of his songwriting and the groundedness of his baritone meet. When I hear him, I think of those jazz singers who, no matter how stable and real reality feels to us all, seem to never lose sight of the fact that it's truly incredible that anything or anyone is here at all. I think of jazz singers like Leon Thomas, Johnny Hartman, and Doug Hammond. A fan on NPR's JazzSet: "In Prague, Gregory Porter and his musicians blew me right into a universe of vividness, love and devotion." Now that's the kind of greatness that our world needs more of.
Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, jazzalley.com, 7:30 pm, $24.50, all ages
Chris McCarthy Big Band & Andy Clausen's Split Stream Big Band
Tonight, two young and gifted composers show their stuff: Chris McCarthy and Andy Clausen. In 2012, McCarthy won the Big Band Composition Competition at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Clausen won this prize in 2009. Both were educated at Roosevelt High School. Both are known for experimenting with the big band form. McCarthy plays regularly at the Royal Room. Clausen has played with one of the owners of the Royal Room, jazz pianist Wayne Horvitz. Don't miss the show tonight.
The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave S, 906-9920, theroyalroomseattle.com, 8 pm, musicians paid by your donations, all ages
Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra
The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, which was formed in 2004 and meets on Sundays at Tula's, mostly performs compositions by locally known and unknown musicians. Do not underestimate the importance of this. It not only helps to keep the works of local artists in circulation—works that might be overlooked or never see the light of the public—but it provides our regional tradition with a sense of seriousness and legitimacy. When your composition is performed by JCJO, it's validated by the authority of 15 or so professional musicians. JCJO also performs classics by the great Stan Kenton and the greater Gil Evans.
Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, tulas.com, 8 pm, $8, all ages until 10 pm