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Published: 2008/01/25
by Glenn Alexander

It’s A Life – George Porter Jr.

CTV 4114-2

If you made a list of the funkiest of funky bass players, George Porter, Jr. would be real close to the top of that list. His bass playing in the Meters helped define funk in the '60s and '70s and he continues to inspire not only funk musicians, but anyone looking to groove deep. Whether people realize it or not, his bass lines are part of modern music’s DNA. On his latest offering, he collaborates with a host of musicians from Galactic, Papa Grows Funk, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to make a funk/R&B album worthy of New Orleans.

“All I Do Everyday” dazzles with jazz piano licks, wave-like horn flourished and sizzling guitar (courtesy of Tony Hall). The bass bursts through the mix and helps give this flashy song some much-needed solid ground. “Here But I’m Gone” (the Curtis Mayfield classic) has a melody that drifts in like a breeze floating through city streets, creeping in slow and steady with fantastically smooth horn lines that punctuate the song’s poignant sense of personal release and lend it a here nor there’ quality that makes it stand out from the original while maintaining its existential quality. Spooky effects swirl in the ether, begging us to ponder where it’s coming from. “It’s Life” has both a New Orleans’ and R&B sound, while also maintaining a rather Zappa-esque vocal pattern in the intro that somehow sounds like New Orleans. Porter's bass playing is immaculate, but the changes in the song seem to come at the expense of the song’s fluidity.

“Lonesome and Unwanted People” shifts into a melancholy and soulful world of faith coupled with dire straits. With a few strange references to the desperate not believing in Santa Claus, the song still serves as a heartfelt communion of hope. “She Said” gets things back into the groovy and syncopated world that Porter embodies so well, this time over a template of a forlorn man frustrated over a tantalizing woman. With essentially two repeating patterns of groove, it is limited in scope but does manage to move melodically thanks to the horns punctuating things along the way with a bit of bite. “We May Never Pass This Way Again” finds Galactic’s Stanton Moore getting slow and savory on this R&B tune that finds Porter hitting similar grooves he’s hit before, but a masterfully placed organ sound lends the song an ethereal quality that serves it well. If George Porter Jr. can still manage a groove as tight as some of the ones he’s hit on It’s Life after more than a few decades in the business, we can hope for some tasty treats in the future.

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