An Appreciation: Chris Potter

Posted: February 23, 2013 in Jazz
Tags: , , ,

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As a long-time lover of jazz and particularly saxophone driven compositions, I’ve been a fan of Chris Potter for a few years now.  I came to find Chris’ music almost by accident as I was busy searching out YouTube clips of fusion guitar whiz Wayne Krantz.  That search led me to a clip of Wayne and Chris laying down some serious groove at Parc Floral way back in 2004.  The music took me away and I knew I had to find out more about the guy playing sax.  That guy, of course, was Chris Potter and I was hooked.

I’ve added the Parc Floral clip below along with some tracks from Chris’ latest release “The Sirens” (and some other gems).

“The Sirens”, Chris’ 2013 release on ECM records is a welcome addition to my jazz collection.  Chris is regularly compared to jazz titan Sonny Rollins and the comparisons are well deserved.  This Chicago native (born on New Year’s Day 1971) grew up in Columbia, SC and exposed to different music and instruments growing up soon landed with a sax around his neck making his professional debut playing the music of Charlie Parker.  “The Sirens” is Potter at his best (to date) and was inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey (and its Wine Dark Sea).  Perhaps one of Chris’ future works will draw inspiration from James Joyce’s classic “Ulysses” which drew its inspiration from The Odyssey too (with references to the Irish Sea as the “snot green sea”.  That should make for some interesting solo flights!

Chris is a prolific talent and there’s a lot to select from (and, if you’re me, collect).  From the Wikipedia entry on his output:

Potter has released over 15 albums as a leader and performed as a sideman on more than 150 CD’s with many leading musicians including Red Rodney, Pat Metheny, Marian McPartland, Patricia Barber, Kenny Werner, the Mingus Big Band, Paul Motian, Ray Brown, Jim Hall, James Moody, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, Wayne Krantz, Mike Mainieri, Steve Swallow, Steely Dan, Dave Holland, Joanne Brackeen, Adam Rogers and many more.

 His 1998 CD Vertigo was named one of the year’s top ten jazz CDs by both Jazziz magazine and The New York Times.

 He was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for his work on the Joanne Brackeen recording Pink Elephant Magic.

 His 2004 CD Lift: Live At The Village Vanguard was named one of the year’s ten best new jazz recordings by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

 His 2006 release, Underground, on which he records with an electric, more “groove”-based ensemble featuring Craig Taborn on keyboard; Wayne Krantz or Adam Rogers on guitar; and Nate Smith on drums, was followed closely by the 2007 release Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard, featuring Adam Rogers on all six of its tracks.

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