On fire during a live performance in New York, Chris Potter and his teammates stretch out in accordance with the jazz tradition. A lovely theme such as “Stella By Starlight,” or one of their original compositions, serves as a basis for individual expression on Lift
. The saxophonist improvises with natural authority. His cohesive ensemble treats this December 2002 nightclub audience to a special evening out.
Patrons’ thoughts of holiday duties and winter worries must have been pushed aside real fast as Potter cleared the air. The energy he puts into each improvised piece will uplift any tired body. “Lift” does just that as the quartet spins into a quick up-tempo stroll and builds layer upon layer of frenzied counterpoint. Bill Stewart scrambles textures and lays down subtle bombs to emphasize relevant spots. Scott Colley walks the bass with a quick hand and a mellow timbre. Kevin Hays varies his effects by using both acoustic and electric pianos, but he keeps the session on an even keel through solid comping.
Potter gives the audience his all. On soprano for “Okinawa,” he wails on a refreshing modal theme. His graceful use of dynamics and fluid articulation give the piece a woven texture of silver and gold. Like precious metals, he makes every note count. As his interpretation rises and falls, Potter works his improvisation up into a lather.
To introduce Mingus’ “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” he sets aside four minutes of a cappella tenor madness. The saxophonist’s workout covers just about every facet of jazz improvisation. Potter’s trip, while demonstrating his admirable stamina and high energy level, misses a good part of the soul-release action that should occur with such a piece. Similarly, on Stewart’s seven-and-a-half bar blues “7.5,” Potter misses his opportunity to release a message from deep within. Instead, the session relies on athleticism and artful tirades to impress. Although not convincing on this winter evening in New York, the quartet gives their audience a great workout to inspire.
Personnel: Chris Potter- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Kevin Hays- piano, electric piano; Scott Colley- bass; Bill Stewart- drums.