Will Porter | Happy!

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by Will Porter

Debut recording by critically- acclaimed singer/performer. Legendary arranger/producer, famous guests. Blues,R&B, Jazz and pop.
Genre: Blues: Blues Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. I Thought You Were the Right One
5:22 $0.99
2. Don't Pass Me By (Radio edit)
3:57 $0.99
3. San Francisco Bay
3:00 $0.99
4. The Blues Aren't The Songs We Sing
4:21 $0.99
5. Easy Street
4:11 $0.99
6. Sweet Maybe
3:56 $0.99
7. Monongahela (I Remember)
4:07 $0.99
8. Im gonna sit Right Down (and write Myself a Letter)
2:39 $0.99
9. Like a Circle (Around the Sun)
5:33 $0.99
10. Adios
5:01 $0.99
11. Don't Pass Me By (complete Version)
5:21 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"BEST PRODUCED CD OF the year!!" New York Blues & Jazz Society

Ben Fong-Torres (long time Rolling Stone editor) says:
"Where there's a Will, there's a soulful song, well sung!..

"When I heard "Don't Pass Me By", I got goosebumps!"
Percy Sledge

2007! Blues Revue Magazine gets "Like a Circle (Around the Sun)" for inclusion for the CD sent to 20,000 subscribers. Many appear to be European radio stations...HUGE AIR PLAY FOR THE TRACK all over Europe!

This CD was recorded in NEW ORLEANS, La.

HAPPY is still available to INTERNET customers as well as fans at live shows. Some Towers now stock it; if not, they can order it.

FOUR STARS **** (Excellent) AMG (AllMusicGuide)
by Alex Henderson
Classic soul as listeners knew it in the 60's and 70's isn't dead, but it isn't nearly as plentiful as it was back then - and you certainly have to know where to look for it. One of the places to look is the blues circuit, which has its' share of artists who are quite capable of embracing urban blues one minute and soul the next. West Virginia native turned Bay Area resident Will Porter has enjoyed a small local following on the northern California blues circuit, but his debut album, HAPPY, actually contains more soul than blues. And much of the time, the singer recalls an era in which Otis Redding, Al Green, Tyrone Davis, Eddie Floyd, and Stax Records reigned supreme. Porter demonstrates his mastery of urban blues on "Like a Circle (Around the Sun)", and he ventures into vocal jazz territory on expressive performances of the standards "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (and Write Myself A Letter)"and "Easy Street". But more often than not, HAPPY is a soul album - which is why Porter was lucky to have Wardell Quezergue on board. In New Orleans, Quezergue commands the sort of respect that Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff command in Philadelphia; in other words, he's R&B royalty. And as HAPPY's producer/arranger, Quezergue oversees an impressive cast that includes Billy Preston, Barbara Lewis (as in "Hello Stranger"), and former Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli. HAPPY doesn't pretend to be groundbreaking; Porter is derivative, but derivative in the best, most positive sense of the word - and thanks to Quezergue, he shows himself to be a heavy-duty soulster who can also handle jazz and the blues enjoyably well."

You might ask, “Who the heck is singer/songwriter Will Porter”? And how did he get Barbara Lewis (Baby I’m Yours), Bunchy Johnson (Aaron Neville), Mic Gillette (Tower of Power Horns), Leo Nocentelli (The Meters), Billy Preston (no introductions necessary), and Wardell Quezergue, (whom many consider The Architect of New Orleans Sound), “The Creole Beethoven,” to produce and do all the arrangements—rhythm, horn and strings, (The Louisiana Philharmonic Strings) for this very strong debut recording for Porter.

About Will Porter: Originally from West Virginia, now San Francisco-based. Music director or band leader for Mary Wells, The Shirelles, The Drifters, The Coasters, Little Anthony, Chuck Berry, Sam Moore, Percy Sledge, Del Shannon, and Mitch Ryder. Years of club and concert work, including two appearances as a headliner at The San Francisco Blues Fest. Porter met Wardell and Bunchy when he and Billy Preston went to Mississippi and Louisiana for a series of shows. The house band was Wardell’s. These shows started the talks and Wardell’s well-known pre-recording process for the New Orleans recording of Will’s first ever CD “Happy”.

Quezergue on Will Porter: “He sounds like Will Porter, which is a good quality to have. He has a lot of material, and I hope to continue working with him. I've had big Soul hits, and Pop hits. This CD is Soul and Pop!!”

The CD gets started on a upbeat groove with Will’s “I Thought You Were the Right One”, with its thumping bass line by Wardell’s son Brian, Nocentelli’s fuzzed out scorching guitar, Preston’s B3, and with Wardell’s incredibly intellectual horn charts. It serves as a perfect backdrop for Porter’s smooth and, at the same time, raspy vocals. During the long fade you can also hear Barbara Lewis join in as well— really sweet! There are two versions of “Don’t Pass Me By,” a radio edit, and the final track on the CD (the complete version), which shows off Will’s heartfelt vocals aided by Wardell’s strings and horns. Perhaps Will’s old boss and band mate Percy Sledge says it best, "When I heard "Don't Pass Me By" I got goose-bumps!" Who can argue with Percy?

The Jesse Fuller classic “San Francisco Bay” is next, with more punchy-funky horns and sweet vocals making this track an utter delight! Howard Arlen’s “Easy Street” has that lounge feel but is given a superb lush treatment with Wardell’s strings and horns. You will love the way Will delivers on this classic chestnut, especially when he comments “sit and play the horses”. Additionally, the Thaddeus Richard sax solo is so silky smooth! Porter’s “Sweet Maybe” definitely has that New Orleans funky back beat that made Wardell, and now perhaps Will Porter , famous.

“I’m Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself a Letter) at first seems like an unusual choice, but it is treated in a second line parade-style way. Porter mentions: “That track is NOT Dixieland! –and could be the only parade song with strings.” It works for me. Will’s vocals are right on and Mic Gillette (trombone) and Johnnie Bamont (tenor) take near perfect solos. Now, it’s Blues-time, with Porter’s “Like a Circle (Around the Sun)”. Billy Preston’s B3 provides the grease and co-mingles beautifully with Thaddeus Richard (this time on piano). Nocentelli tastefully soars on guitar, and once again those exquisite horns and strings by Wardell are perfectly executed for Will to take you back down home. “Adios,” the sixth Porter original, is just plain gorgeous. From a radio DJ’s perspective this tune would segue well with Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey”, only with a Spanish twist. Check out Wardell’s at times classical-sounding string charts, making this the prettiest song on this very impressive CD.

There you have it. There is something musically for everyone here, all executed to near perfection. Furthermore: as special and unique as this recording is, the more you listen to it, the more it will grow on you!

Buy this CD! And give it time to simmer in your CD tray and treat yourself to all the ear candy provided, as you will not be disappointed. There are not enough CDs made today where so much care and detail have been taken during the recording process. This one delivers on all fronts! Will Porter may have waited a long time to arrive, but here he is…! Enjoy!

This CD appears headed for a major-label release, maybe re-titled, but the remaining independent copies seem readily available at cdbaby.com, Amazon.com, Tower and various internet sources.



"WILL PORTER is at the front of the bandstand, singing a collection of uptown r&b, blues and standards. PORTER'S SMOOTH, RELAXED VOCALS share the soundstage with a crack band that includes Mic Gillette from the TOWER OF POWER HORNS and Bunchy Johnson, with guests Billy Preston (keys), and soul songstress Barbara Lewis. Legendary arranger Wardell Quezergue is responsible for much of the magic on this mostly mid-tempo set. Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "Easy Street" gets a rich Nelson Riddle-esque reading. "San Francisco Bay", bouncy and layered with horns, is far from Jesse Fuller's folksy original, and a crazy parade parade feel transforms "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter." Porter offers deep ballads ("The Blues Aren't the songs We Sing" and "Adios"), New Orleans pop (the strutting "Sweet Maybe") and stone funk ("I Thought You Were the Right One").
-- TOM HYSLOP Blues Revue


"For his CD debut, mellow-toned San Franciscan Will Porter joins New Orleans' Wardell Quezergue. Producing and arranging the disc, Quezergue frames Porter's amiable baritone in rich strings-and horns-filled settings. "It stands with anything I've done," Quezergue says. That's a serious claim from the man who shaped so many New Orleans soul and R&B classics. Porter's other stellar help includes former Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli, Billy Preston, and string players from The Louisiana Philharmonic. Nocentelli's unmistakeable guitar figures in Porter's funk-driven original "I Thought You Were the Right One". Porter, an easy, natural singer, turns warm and tender for the soulful "Don't Pass Me By." The earnest "The Blues Aren't the Songs We Sing", another Porter original, is reminiscent of the songs of the Louisiana-connected Randy Newman. The fun "Sweet Maybe" bubbles with New Orleans flavor, as does a traditional jazz take on "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter." Rather than manufacture music from keyboards and drum machines, Porter has made a record with real musicians and a world-class arranger. Ususally only singers of Bette Midler and Barbara Streisand's status can afford such a project. But the affable Porter does it with style and grace."
-- THE ADVOCATE, Baton Rouge, LA

"IN THE BASEMENT" (Top UK soul/R&B Mag)
"From the liners here we learn that Will Porter started in gospel as a boy, before going on the road with blues singers. After a singing residency in San Francisco, he became a musical director and bandleader for the likes of Mary Wells, The Shirelles, Little Anthony and Chuck Berry. In the late nineties he was back singing and his pedigree has brought in such helpers here as Barbara Lewis, Billy Preston, Leo Nocentelli and members of the Louisiana Philharmonic, plus production and arrangements from Wardell Quezergue.
The arrangements in general deserve particular praise, especially when, as on most tracks, they feature full orchestral support. Thus, without in any way deameaning Will's fine performances throughout, it's the ballads that really stand out, viz the beautiful "Adios", the deep "Don't Pass Me By", previously cut by Big Maybelle,Will's own "The Blues Aren't The Songs We Sing" and the moving "Monongahela (I Remember)", featuring Billy Preston on melodica and backing vocals from Barbara Lewis. Barbara also lends her vocals towards the close of the funky rippler "I Thought You Were The Right One", and Billy powers the organ on the big-band blues of "Like a Circle (Around the Sun)". Proving his versatility, Porter equips himself well on the Johnny Mercer/ Harold Arlen standard, "Easy Street", and applies what he calls a "parade beat" to " I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter".
Amazingly, this is his debut CD and one he deserves to be proud of, as a listen to the brass-driven "San Francisco Bay" and the chugging toe-tapper, "Sweet Maybe" will testify."
"The CD is great!"

When Yellowjackets’ bassist Jimmy Haslip tells you a guy is worth listening to, you tend to take a bit of notice. On the sleeve of this set, Will Porter looks as happy as a sand-boy, to use an English phrase. . and as he has called in contributions from Billy Preston, Barbara Lewis, Meters guitar ace Leo Nocentelli and Tower of Power horn man Mic Gillete, then Will Porter must have talent. What’s more, the production and arrangements are in the hands of Wardell Quezergue, another quality musician. Great names alone do not automatically mean great records, but this recording has a stylish, rhythmic flavour that just gets you tapping your toes as this singer/keyboardist rolls into action. No wonder Mary Wells was happy to work with this playerm he has a good ear. What’s better is that he keeps away from “traditional blues” as he feels enough people are working that vein, and wants to do his own thing. There are elements of gospel and rock n roll in here, but what you are really hearing is a fusion of New Orleans sounds and a more San Francisco/Bay Area sensibility. Catchiest cut: “Don’t Pass Me By”. Pete Sargeant


It's rare that a group of Grammy honorees will come together for the debut recording of a new artist, but that's the case for the first CD for critically-acclaimed performer Will Porter. West Virginia born Porter has been a San Francisco-based singer, songwriter and bandleader for many years.Occasionally headlining concerts, (without released recordings), his debut CD was produced and arranged by the legendary Wardell Quezergue in New Orleans. The CD features multi-Grammy winner Billy Preston (just now receiving new media attention for his newly mixed/newly released "Let it Be" ,in it's original form, with just the Beatles and Billy). Also on board are New Orleans' iconic guitarist Leo Nocentelli, honored by the Grammies for his work with The Meters; and Atlantic/Stax Soul Queen Barbara Lewis,(two-time Grammy nominee), in her first studio work in decades. Quezergue brought together New Orleans' top rhythm section, led by famed drummer BUNCHY JOHNSON, and 14 strings from The Louisiana Philharmonic! Mic Gillette(of Tower of Power horns) led a "Best of the Bay Area" Horn section on Wardell's charts.The icing on the cake is the final mastering by the ONLY engineer to win a Grammy for mastering (for the "Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack), Gavin Lurrsen.
Wardell Quezergue, though you may not recognize his name (Kuh-zair), is named by historians as "The Architect of the New Orleans sound", and by Allan Toussaint as "The Creole Beethoven". Also an award winning classical composer and conductor,he is responsible for Dr John's Grammy-winning "Going Back to New Orleans", the WC Handy-winning Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and dozens of hits; including "Barefootin", "Mr Big Stuff", "Iko Iko" "Groove Me", "Misty Blue", and many more. His work with Aaron Neville ("Orchid in the Storm") has just been re-released.
He has worked with Pop and Soul acts from Paul Simon to Stevie Wonder, Blues artists including BB King& Etta James, and every major New Orleans act. His time-line as arranger, producer or songwriter runs from Professor Longhair to Mariah Carey.
"This CD is very satisfying to me. It stands with anything I've done. Because of the freedom Will gave me in choosing from his songs, and my arranging the entire project, this is as much a "Wardell" project as it is a "Will" CD. I was attracted to the project for several reasons. I like the material. A project usually has one or two standout tracks; this one has so many good songs!
"Don't Pass Me By" is my favorite.I like Will's projection, his voice. He has a unique sound; he sounds like Will Porter, which is a good quality to have. He has a lot of material, and I hope to continue working with him. I've had big Soul hits, and Pop hits..THIS CD IS SOUL AND POP!!".

New Orleans OFFBEAT (150,000 copies)
The man they call the "Creole Beethoven", Wardell Quezergue, has said that this CD is as much his as it is Will Porter's. He's right, and it's obvious Will himself doesn't mind a bit: although Porter made a name for himself as bandleader and musical director for R&B legends, he wisely decided to turn the arrangements over to Wardell for this, his solo debut.And while PORTER IS A FINE VOCALIST AND A SOLID SYNTHESIST OF R&B AND BLUES STYLES, it's the arrangements that steal the show. When was the last time you heard a set where the string section was the MVP?
That section's really 14 strings from the Louisiana Philharmonic and they work wonders on nearly every track here, from the ladies' choice "Don't Pass me By" to a jazzy meditation like "Monongahela( I Remember)" to a delightfully unexpected cover of the pop standard "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter". Not that Porter doesn't offer plenty to color in: HIS SINGING IS EXPRESSIVE (think of Percy Sledge using B.J. Thomas' vocal chords), HIS ORIGINALS DISPLAY A KEEN ABILITY TO WORK ANCIENT BLUES PHRASES INTO NEW MELODIC FORMS.
Oh, and there are some other folks sitting in here, too. That's none other than Billy Preston on two organ tracks and ex-Meters guitarists Leo Nocentelli adding considerable snap to tracks like..a tightly-wound choogler, the opener "I Thought You Were the Right One" and the Lee Dorsey-like stagger of "Sweet Maybe." Barbara "Hello Stranger" Lewis may only be backup here, but don't you wish more albums had this kind of talent in the secondary?..You might think that anyone could make a great CD with a lineup like this. But then, these cats don't give it up for just anybody."
Robert Fontenot New Orleans OFFBEAT

Will Porter is a new name to me. Reading the sleevenote, he hails from West Virginia and now lives in San Francisco where he is fairly well known from appearances at local clubs and festivals. This album came about from Porter meeting veteran New Orleans arranger Wardell Quezergue — their discussions led them to decide to work together to produce this CD. The result is a sophisticated album, possibly a bit too sophisticated for some tastes, which is a bit of a ‘sleeper’ — one which sounds better with each listening. Four of the 11 tracks are Porter’s own compositions with the pick of these being ‘The Blues Aren’t The Songs We Sing’ — a haunting ballad, and ‘Sweet Baby’ which hits a funky groove. Of the covers, Will’s version of (appropriately) ‘San Francisco Bay’ is another funky offering, ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ is a lovely ‘deep’ soul ballad, whilst the traditional ‘Like A Circle’ is a punchy blues. The album features excellent musicianship -— Porter’s gritty vocals, the rhythm parts, and string section were recorded in New Orleans, with horns added on the West Coast. Amongst those guesting on some tracks are Billy Preston (organ), Leo Nocentelli (guitar) and Barbara Lewis (background vocals). The excellent drummer ‘Bunchy’ Johnson is present throughout. A difficult album to summarise — not one for those just looking for a continuation of the New Orleans sounds of the ’50s and ’60s. However, those with wider tastes and who appreciate class arrangements together with the work of Wardell Quezergue should find more than enough to enjoy here."



to write a review

Ted Dreisinger

Tap your feet, hold your heart - Porter will 'take you home'
Warning! If you listen to this CD more than three times, you will be hooked on the originality and drive of HAPPY. Porter's unique rhythms and obvious enthusiasm will make you feel like you have always known this music. From the 'back beat' of 'I Thought You WereThe Right One" (which will own you if you are not careful), to the soulful 'The Blues Aren't the Songs We Sing' this album is thoughtful, real and thoroughly entertaining. Close your eyes; let this rendition of 'Easy Street' enter your brain, and you will wonder why this artist has waited so long to '...come to the dance.'

Bob Evick-"Wally&The Beav Productions"

This CD is a must!!!
Having worked with Will in a" Live setting"-I knew that he would surround himself with the best when he set out to do this disc. Wardell, Billy, Barbara, Leo, and Mic not withstanding - this CD has a little of everything. It is knitted together with New Orleans Jazz, Chicago Blues, Memphis R&B, Detroit Soul, and a touch of Nashville. HAPPY makes you feel just that!! This CD is a must!!

Mic Gillette

When Will told me he was finally going to cut a CD, I insisted on being aboard. Wardell is at his finest, the rythem section absolutely smokes, and it reads like the Who's Who of recording history. One of my favorite projects of all time.


Bobbie Myers

I Like the entire CD..there is nothing I don't like about it!
I like the entire CD- there is nothing I don't like about it. It was surprising.. I must admit that my initial reponse was "What's all that other stuff? I just want to hear Will." But..my feeling changed. It was richer, fuller??? something? and now I can't imagine it being any other way. At first my favorite was "I Thought You Were the Right One" and then "Don't Pass Me By". By the second or third week it was "Monongahela" and "The Blues Aren't the Songs We Sing" (although sometimes this one touches too deep). Last week it was "Like a Circle". I'm sure with time (and mood) each will take its turn. I don't want to sound too sappy a fan but..I love it and want more."


Don't Pass this Buy - this CD is the Right One
Don't Pass this Buy - This CD is the Right One. Great range of vocals, moods & instrumentation. The more you listen, the more favorites you will have. From walking by SF Bay to gliding down the Mon to Circling the Sun to saying Adios, this CD (both upbeat and sentimental) makes me Happy!

Peter Kehoe

The 4-5 soulful songs are so addictive...
Don't Pass Me By is so wistful and sad and so catchy... can't stop singing it to myself... same for Adios, Mi Corazon.... great vocals and backup....Not sure why he calls the album "Happy", I got the blues big time now.