KPLU Live Studio Session

In 2003, Seattle jazz singer, Stephanie Porter released her debut CD, Mood Swings.  The CD presented Stephanie’s unmistakable voice, singing a selection of excellent songs from The Great American Songbook (like, Cheek To Cheek, Get Out Of Town and Misty). Her second CD, How Deep Is The Ocean, released in 2010, showed the world that she had grown tremendously as a singer and, here again, the songs on the disc were wonderfully-done standards.

On her new CD, Radio Theatre, Stephanie Porter has taken a giant step forward.  She is now composing her own material. The majority of the songs we hear on Radio Theatre were written by Stephanie, and she already sounds like a seasoned pro.  It’s a classy set of songs that let us into Stephanie’s mind and heart.  In this KPLU Studio Session, hosted by Abe Beeson, Steph sings two of her compositions from the new release and wraps up the show with a light-hearted, breezy version of the old Isham Jones/Gus Kahn standard, It Had To Be You.  It’s always nice to hear time-tested songs like It Had To Be You, but it’s great to hear Stephanie Porter take another giant artistic step in what seems to be an unstoppable career.

 

No More Division - Indie Music Album Review

Stephanie Porter is a world-class jazz vocalist who has toured France, England and Canada to name a few and released a good amount of music. Her latest release Radio Theatre is eclectic but unequivocally jazz. She mixes it up from fast paced, upbeat almost swing songs to a style you could imagine on a Christmas album to a sultry and seductive style you might imagine playing in a noir style jazz club.

It doesn’t take long to recognize she has a great voice. There is strength in her voice even when she sings softly that provide a sense of solace. She is also quite dynamic in her range and knows to stress certain inflections and then when to hold back. 

The album starts with “He Thinks That I’m Wonderful” which is undeniable a passionate and sensual song. I don’t think that Porter could deny there are sexual, seductive undertones on this track. That being said it’s classy, refined and clean. The whole time the song was playing I was thinking Porter playing this in a dimly lit jazz club where everyone's attention was focused on her. I have to admit Jessica Rabbit also came to mind. 

Porter touts a similar vibe on “Into November” but things start to shift in “Around the World.” “Around the World” is a percussive heavy song has some textures and tones that you might not expect on a jazz album. ”Come Back To Me” was a personal highlight that worked on a faster BPM, a walking bass line and could work as a show tune. The song contains some fantastic jazz drumming and even has a short Gene Krupa style solo, which was certainly enjoyable. 

Something about the tempo and delivery on “Poor Little Child” made it sound like it could be on a Christmas album while “No More Blues” implements a Bossa Nova groove into mix. Great stuff. As the album progresses Porter continues to display diversity such as “Day Dreams” which make you feel like you are in Paris by combining accordion and “la la la’s.”

Radio Theatre is a superbly produced and well-written record. At the end of the day it won’t convert those you who don’t have an appreciation for different jazz styles but if you do I think Radio Theatreis an album you will want to spend some time with. 

Earshot Magazine

Stephanie Porter’s release party for her new album Radio Theatre was a taste of everything you’d want to see and hear from a jazz singer. Treating Tula’s like her own house, she welcomed us to her art like a great hostess to the feast. And what a spread it was. With a full moon outside and heat radiating up from the pavement of a record-breaking Seattle summer, July 31 saw a sold-out crowd gathered for the awaited album.

About halfway through her first set, she joked, “If I mess up, I can sparkle my dress and hypnotize you all tonight.” And sparkle and hypnotize she did. From her black velvet four-inch heels and silver sequin-studded dress that graciously clung to her curves, to her new blond tresses (a brunette for her last album, she joked that for her next one, she’d be a redhead), she was a shining vision. Opening with a smooth rendition of Frank Foster’s “Shiny Stockings,” Porter lyrically reinforced the entrancing display and plunged us into her album.

Throughout the evening, Porter’s fans from over the years and newcomers to her sound were treated to her soulful tone, silky and effortless delivery, pitch-perfect sailing and gliding around every phrase with never a wrong turn. Her second song was a husky rendition of Barbra Streisand’s cover “Lover, Come Back to Me” by Romberg and Hammerstein.

For the party, Porter joined forces with her usual skillful band and other guests. She was backed by Steve Yusen’s energetic drum work and Dan O’Brien’s bass playing, so creamy you could pour it in your coffee. Not only did we get to hear her go-to pianist, Darin Clendenin, supporting her with superb sensitivity and competence, but she brought up others whom she’s worked with over the years. Zyah Ahmonuel, a sort of Thelonious embodiment who seemed to operate a musical stream of consciousness as if every note was his last perfect thought, joined her for several songs, including one oft-played on KPLU, “How Deep Is the Ocean.” Next up, one of the arrangers for her album, Marius “Butch” Nordal, commanded the piano looking like everyone’s favorite college professor and sounding like he was inspired by all the jazz saints who have gone before him. Then Craig Hoyer, another arranger for her album, ponytail swinging, tore into the piano with an exuberance that would have brought those same saints back to listen, to capture just a little more joy. It was a unique moment to see all that talent, seated at the same back table, taking turns for their chance to spread their music, each a differently beautiful carpet, underneath Porter’s feet.

One of the highlights off the album was the world music-influenced “Around the World.” Featuring accomplished percussionist Dan Adams, it inspired loud cheers from the audience, as her bossa nova, “No More Blues,” did too. “Right On Time,” a gospel blues, was another crowd pleaser, receiving a huge ovation. Not to go unmentioned was tenor sax and flute player Mike West, whose colorings on “Daydreams” were especially lovely.

Early on in the concert, Porter stated that she was a “lazy singer.” Well if she’s lazy, the bar for “non-lazy” must be awfully high. But maybe her observation is the kind made when a gift is so much of who a person is that they are unimpressed with themselves.

Porter says that even though this album is her first foray into writing music, she always had, and continues to have, constant melodies in her head. As a toddler, she says, “Before I spoke, I would sing.” She would call her parents to pick her up out of bed by singing a little tune, “la la loo loo.”

Singing was so much a part of her, but coming from an extended family of successful instrumentalists, no one encouraged her to pursue it. Expected to become a concert pianist, she was sent to piano lessons at a young age – but she admits it wasn’t her instrument in the way that her voice is. So, her Aunt Lucy, a successful working pianist, would play and Porter would sing along, eventually learning many standards. She listened to all the great singers, but was especially influenced by a Northwest singer and activist, Pat Suzuki, who cut a few albums which Porter rates up there with Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.

Inspired by other writers and deeply in love with her city, the Seattle native (she went to Garfield) expands on the artistic life and community here: “There’s so much creativity in his town.”

She adds that, with all these creative people and the potential for collaboration, “There’s no reason we can’t have our own little Greenwich Village.”

Now that she’s writing, she laughs that the writing bug has bit her, and her fans can expect her to keep writing. When asked about where she sees her career going, she points back to her role model, her Aunt Lucy. A passionate pianist, classically trained and addicted to jazz, at one point the piano in Lucy’s house had to be relegated to the stairwell and sat there, propped crookedly. Never deterred, she practiced it at a tilt, defying all those piano teachers’ constant admonitions to perfect posture. Lucy played out all the years of her life, carting her own gear and pulling the piano out of her trunk up to a few months before she passed at age 86.

Porter says that music will always be in her, and she’ll follow in her aunt’s footsteps and in the footsteps of so many other musicians. She says, “They didn’t retire…like Ella and Sarah, they kept singing.”

She adds, “You hope that life will allow you to have those opportunities.”

And from a listener’s standpoint, we do too, Stephanie. We do too.

Radio Theatre is available now on iTunes and CDBaby. More info at www.stephanieporter.com.

 

Marius Nordal/ pianist / composer/ arranger/ journalist/ educator

“ Who would have guessed that such a major song writing talent was to be found in Seattle? Each one is a vivid little tone-painting depicting contrasting slices of life...in her own originsl way, Steph is following the lead established decades ago in the Beatles Sgt. Pepper recording...blues to Latin to autumnal ballads...all rendered in emotionally vivid, 3-D and technicolor...with opulent harmonies to die for. "Radio Theater" it is indeed!”

 

AXS Contributor

Stephanie Porter stops jazz traffic with brand new ‘Radio Theatre’

It wasn’t too long ago that Seattle songbird Stephanie Porter captivated audiences old and new with her 2010 jazz standards album, How Deep Is the Ocean — her deep, luscious voice the perfect valve for the soft, sensual digressions. Long a staple in the Northwest music scene, Porter this past Saturday announced on her Facebook page the makings of a new album, one that pushed her as more than a covers singer but a songwriter.

 

Manager of Performance and Outreach

Dear Stephanie,

On behalf of Pacific Lutheran University and the Music Department, I extend our sincere appreciation to you and your group for performing at Jazz Under the Stars.  We had great turnouts this year, and some very lovely weather.   In addition to jazz lovers, there were local leaders, art representatives, and educators present.  Many had very complimentary things to say about your talented group.  In addition, the audience enjoyed the unique experience of hearing some of the Northwest’s finest musicians free of charge!  This could not have happened without your generosity.

Please extend our very best wishes and sincere thanks to the members of your group.   We appreciate your contributions to our successful jazz tradition at PLU, and hope to see you again in the future.

Regards,

Shirley

 

Jazz Music Examiner

 

"Jazz musicians love Stephanie Porter's voice"

Stephanie Porter is a name every musician should know. Her soulful voice has enchanted many in and around the Northwest.

The best vocalists are the most versatile ones, able to interpret the hell out of a song — be it R&B, the Great American Songbook, a little pop, a little pizzazz. A Seattle treasure, Stephanie Porter, is one of those vocalists, and one jazz musicians speak fondly of, not to mention recommend around town.

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Earshot Jazz Award

Steph porterEarshot Jazz 2013 Golden Ear Seattle Jazz Award

Northwest Vocalist of the Year

 

KPLU

 

"Stephanie Porter is one of freshest new jazz vocalists I've heard in quite some time. One of the things I like best about her is that her sound is totally her own; she doesn't sound like anyone else. (OK, maybe a little like the young Anita O'Day... but just a little.) It's going to be a delight to watch and hear her artistic growth in the years to come."

 

INDI-MUSIC.COM

 

 

Stephanie Porter was born to sing Jazz. That much is evident from the opening of "Love For Sale" an excellent cut from her album How Deep Is The Ocean? Porter's vocals on the track are stunning as is the offbeat drumming. The song has a very open sound, at times just her voice and drums, though acoustic bass and piano are also utilized.

Porter can sing like no tomorrow to be blunt. She has stunning depth and range and never overdoes it or overstays her welcome. Her smoky vocals on "Love Me Or Leave Me" are haunting and totally geared for the song. It's quite easy to picture a 1930's Jazz Club covered in cigarette smoke with a bunch of gentlemen hoping to be lonely no more. I think I also picture Jessica Rabbit.

"How Deep Is The Ocean?" has a bit of swing and swagger to it with excellent piano and acoustic bass work even including a bass solo. Again, Porter's vocals are great and the musical arrangements are first class. It is truly a pleasure to listen to a nod to the distant past of American music that sounds genuine and sincere. And, what a voice to do it with. Truly outstanding
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IndiMusic.com

 

 

Album "How Deep is the Ocean" wins Indi Music Top 25 for 2011 

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JAZZ TOKYO

 

“How Deep Is The Ocean” #7 at Jazz store in Tokyo - February 23, 2011

 

Feature Story in Big Fun Entertainment, Arts and Leisure Guide - November 1, 2010

Editor's Picks CDBaby

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"Rather than ensnare you with a lot of vivid adjectives, I'm just going to get right to the point... listen to this album! I mean it! I was and am in total awe with this woman's voice. It's something like Norah Jones with more harmonics, but more broad, more full and just spilling over with emotion. It's been a long, long time since an album has stopped me in my tracks so completely. Even if you don't claim to be much of a jazz vocals fan, at least give this a whirl. Stephanie Porter is not going to be "indie" very long. With an instrument like that voice, she's sure to be chasing the popularity of Diana Krall in no time. It's pure silk. Just listen."

 


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Progressiveswing.com

"Her voice took me on a melodic journey, twisting and turning up and down. One that without question made me smile in satisfaction. This is the artist you brag to fellow music aficionados about finding first. If you don't buy here music you can just wait a year or two and then catch her on the AMA or your local jazz station as she's more then able and certain to make her mark."

IAIRA Research

CD CHART POSITION:2...

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Dear Stephanie Porter,

The International Association of Independent Recording Artists, IAIRA, recognizes and honors artistic achievement, technical proficiency, and overall excellence in sound recording by monitoring chart activity as published in various reporting charts from around the world. According to our research, on 09/15/2010 the above referenced release; Love For Sale, by Stephanie Porter, had attained The Number 2 Position on at least one of the charts monitored and verified by IAIRA. On the basis of that research, IAIRA has qualified the aforementioned release as eligible for Certification as an International 'Top 10'.

On behalf of the entire IAIRA staff and the Recording Arts Community at large, please accept our most sincere Congratulations and Best Wishes for your continued success!

Sincerely,

IAIRA Research Team

---THE IAIRA REPORT---

---THE IAIRA REPORT---

DAILY CHART POSITION UPDATE - TOP 40 Notice

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DATE: 08/20/2010

ARTIST: Stephanie Porter

CURRENT RELEASE: How Deep is the Ocean?

CHART POSITION:27

---THE IAIRA REPORT---

DAILY CHART POSITION UPDATE - TOP 10 Notice

DATE: 08/20/2010

ARTIST: Stephanie Porter

CURRENT RELEASE: Love Me or Leave Me

CHART POSITION:9

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Dear Stephanie Porter,

The International Association of Independent Recording Artists, IAIRA, recognizes and honors artistic achievement, technical proficiency, and overall excellence in sound recording by monitoring chart activity as published in various reporting charts from around the world. According to our research, on 08/20/2010 the above referenced release; Love Me or Leave Me, by Stephanie Porter, had attained The Number 9 Position on at least one of the charts monitored and verified by IAIRA. On the basis of that research, IAIRA has qualified the aforementioned release as eligible for Certification as an International 'Top 10'.

On behalf of the entire IAIRA staff and the Recording Arts Community at large, please accept our most sincere Congratulations and Best Wishes for your continued success!