Remembering Bob Porter

June 20, 1940 – April 10, 2021


A tribute to the jazz and blues authority

Bob Porter passed away on April 10, 2021, at the age of 80.

He was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts on June 20, 1940.

After graduating from Whittier College and serving in the Army, Porter became a record producer, starting with organist Charles Kynard’s Professor Soul in 1968, and soon following it up by producing albums by Houston Person and Harold Mabern.

An expert and a lover of soul-jazz, 1950s r&b, hard bop, and blues, Porter was a prolific record producer including the seven volumes of Atlantic Rhythm and Blues, and Charlie Parker’s The Complete Savoy Sessions.

Porter produced over 175 jazz and blues albums including Person, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Hank Crawford, David Newman, Illinois Jacquet, Big Joe Turner, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Pat Martino, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Don Patterson, and others, not to mention 200 reissued albums for Savoy and Atlantic.

In addition to his work as a record producer, Bob Porter hosted weekly shows at WBGO starting in 1979 (Saturday Morning Function, Swing Party and Portraits In Blue), wrote many liner notes (for which he was nominated for six Grammies, winning twice), wrote columns for such magazines as Cash Box, Jazz Journal International, Jazz Times, and Downbeat, and was the author of Soul Jazz: Jazz In The Black Community 1945-1975; he also gave lectures on blues history.

To remember Bob Porter, here is Houston Person’s recording of “Goodness” which was used as the theme song on his 1979 WBGO radio show Rare But Well Done; featured are Person on tenor, organist Sonny Phillips, guitarist Billy Butler, bassist Bob Bushnell, drummer Frankie Jones, and Buddy Caldwell on congas.

-Scott Yanow

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