" Birthday Party"
Renaissance Man Bob Porter
Celebrates His Birthday in A Big Way
Bob Porter celebrated his seventieth birthday in a way befitting his enormous contributions to music. He has covered a lot musical ground during his seventy years on the planet. Most of us in the Northeast are familiar with his work, but for those who are not, here's a partial list of his contributions and accomplishments: 2009 Blues Hall of Fame inductee, current radio host of the "Saturday Morning Function" at WBGO, and the syndicated "Portraits In Blue" which ran for twenty-five years at NPR. Porter's also been honored with a WC Handy Award for public radio.
Big Bob's also been honored by the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation, the New Jersey Chapter of the NAACP, five Grammy nominations, and is a two-time Grammy winner for his liner notes on The Complete Charlie Parker, and for Best Historical Reissue Atlantic Rhythm & Blues, which, if you don't own, shame on you! He's written for Jazz Times, Down Beat, Jazz Journal, Cash Box, and other publications too numerous to list and has written liner notes for more than three hundred recordings.
The multitalented Mr. Porter also produced nearly two hundred jazz and Blues albums (Big Joe Turner, Joe Williams, Cleanhead Vinson, Roomful of Blues, Illinois Jacquet, Red Holloway, Plas Johnson, Willis Jackson, Jimmy McGriff, Hank Crawford, Fathead Newman, Lou Donaldson, Ron Levy, Scott Hamilton, and many others. Obviously, Porter has affection for sax players and has also been a huge B3 fan. Plus, he has good taste in jazz-blues guitarists. Bob has also produced over two hundred reissue recordings. All in all, quite an impressive list of achievements!
Now for the seventieth birthday bash given by his loving wife Linda Calandra Porter, who months ago contacted me to acquire the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of various musicians she wanted to perform. Little did I know that she would assemble such a who's who all-star cast of not only musicians, but also industry luminaries! Everywhere I turned there were well known record company executives, recording producers, journalists, photographers (including BluesWax's own Joe Rosen), publicists, radio and press promoters. At my table alone I was surrounded by Shemekia Copeland and Crispin Cioe of the Uptown Horns.
The house band consisted of the great Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums, Melvin Sparks on guitar, Bill Easley on sax, and Akiko Tsuruga on B3 grooving keyboards. IBC winner Dave Keyes sat in on (what else?) keys, and sang "Tore Up Over You," the great B3 burner Gene Ludwig also sizzled, as did Crispin Cioe, and all the way from Phoenix by way of the Chicago Blues Fest Bob Corritore also performed, as did the very talented vocalist Angel Risoff. Melvin Sparks was on his guitar game and also sang, Guy Davis vocalized, Shemekia Copeland nearly tore the house down calling for a shuffle in E. Duke Robillard took over from Melvin Sparks and also cranked it up, and the night closed appropriately with Lou Donaldson singing Big Bill Broozy's hilarious "Just a Dream," with Papa Lou updating the last verse lyrics on Bush and Obama.
All in all, this was the most memorable private party I've ever attended. It's also important to note that three quarters of the previously mentioned house band were some of Porter's favorite musicians that he often used on records he produced. How cool is that? And than came the Blues cats who all performed superbly. What a night indeed!
Hats off to Mrs. Porter for all the hard work she did in preparation of this event, as I am sure everyone in attendance will remember this very special night for the more than deserved Mr. Bob Porter who via his radio programs and friendship has taught many of us jazz, Blues and R&B history every time he is on the air, and whenever he opines in person. Here's looking to many more years on the planet for Big Bob, and whenever they have another party such as this, I sure hope they don't forget to add me to the guest list for the next hip Bob Porter birthday party.
Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at www.SoundsofBlue.com. Bob maybe contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com