Saturday, May 06, 2017

Chris Potter - The Dreamer is the Dream (ECM, 2017)

Chris Potter's latest album had a long gestation period, concluding at New York City’s Avatar Studios, after several days of recording in Switzerland and a long string of live concerts before that. This is a new acoustic quartet that features Potter on tenor and soprano saxophones plus bass clarinet, David Virelles on piano and keyboards, Joe Martin on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums and percussion. "Heart In Hand" opens the album with the focus on majestic and patient tenor saxophone and piano, supported by spare bass and drums. The percussion sound becomes a complex rhythm in combination with piano with jaunty tenor saxophone on "Illimba." The music is upbeat and infectious with a touch of Sonny Rollins in the leaping and loping tenor saxophone solo. After a fine piano, bass and drums interlude there is a snappy and bright drum solo. "The Dreamer Is The Dream" has Potter's reed echoing in silence, getting a distinctive sound from his bass clarinet, then the band joins in on a quiet ballad performance. There is a very nice bass solo in open space, which is impeccably played. Potter's strident horn moves in with quiet authority leading the group to the powerful conclusion. Sampled sound and subtly played percussion and chimes provide an intriguing opening for "Memory and Desire." Quiet yearning soprano saxophone moves in a stealthy manner, patiently developing the melody, while muted tones of piano and gentle percussion glisten. There is a feeling of warmth to the performance, which builds gradually to a feature of saxophone and dancing cymbals, frolicking through the music. "Yasodhara" has tenor saxophone and complex rhythm picking up speed, as the full quartet comes into bloom. Potter's thick and resonant saxophone receives delicate framing from rhythm trio. The group develops a fine free spirited improvisation which brings a sense of joy in the act of playing. There is a rippling interlude for piano, bass and drums, before the leader's saxophone returns building back up carefully, then letting loose with a flurry of activity.  Finally, "Sonic Anomaly" allows the piano, bass and drums unit to set the stage before the rock solid tenor saxophone enters, confidently striding forward. Rhythmic accompaniment and choppy saxophone phrases make for an appealing performance and overall atmosphere. This was a very successful recording, where the band were able to develop their sound, pushing past all challenges and creating a pleasant and thoughtful album. The Dreamer Is the Dream - amazon.com

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