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Jazz program sings the praises, woes of love

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Carolyn Perteete Credit: Anna Halasz
Jazz singer Gregory Porter Credit: GoMediaPR

Like romantic relationships and jazz songs, Valentine's Day can go many different directions.

“You begin to think of it differently as you go through life,” says singer Gregory Porter. “When you are younger, you make Valentine's Day cards for all sorts of people: your parents, your teachers, your friends. Then, as you get older, you see things a little differently.”

Porter will explore some of those variable outlooks on romance and love Tuesday at the Cabaret Theater, Downtown. The Grammy-nominated singer will be joined by the quartet of trumpeter Sean Jones and singer Carolyn Perteete in a look at romance and how it is portrayed in music.

Perteete, who also teaches at Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy in Wilkinsburg, agrees the many aspects of love create a wide range of directions to sing about it. It also makes the choice of what to perform demanding.

“Some of the lyrics just don't relate to who I am,” she says, adding she wants to do at least one of her own originals to accomplish an honest portrayal of her thoughts.

She also knows one song by another composer that is an accurate portrayal of her thinking and will be on the program — Stevie Wonder's “Send One Your Love.”

The two singers will be accompanied by the Jones quartet, which includes pianist Orrin Evans, drummer Obed Calvaire and bassist Luques Curtis.

Porter also knows romance and love are examined in different ways in music, just as they are in his own music. His “When Did You Learn,” for instance, looks at the type of support and friendship that is needed in true love, while the classic “Skylark” seeks help in seeing whether that love exists.

He says he is still encountering those different stages of love. The love he has for his parents and his wife both are profound but very different.

“And now, when I look at my new son, it's an entirely deeper thing,” he says.

For that reason, songs about love can be as varied as melodies, he says.

Perteete says they also have to keep in mind another factor.

“I'm trying to pick some songs that will work well with the band, too,” she says.

Porter says he feels comfortable doing this show with Jones because the trumpeter took a look at the various kinds of love at the last Valentine's Day show at the Cabaret. The singer saw him present that show at the Jazz Standard in New York City and says he knows he and Jones approach love from similar standpoints.

Porter is becoming a familiar figure in Pittsburgh. He was a performer in the first edition of the JazzLive International festival in 2011 and opened the Cultural Trust's Jazz Appreciation Month series in 2012.

He says he knows standards often present an understandable look at romance that many listeners want to hear. But he, too, likes presenting his own thoughts so wants to work with the Jones quartet in some of his material.

Porter says he is doing the same thing as he prepares work on his new album, which he will begin recording in March.

“Doing other songs is great, but it is always nice to have something of your own to say,” he says.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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