Chris Potter Underground: Ultrahang (2009)
Potter's penchant for shifting metersdespite being couched in curiously grounded visceral grooves less firmly entrenched in a conventional rhythm section's more fixed pulseremains intact on the down-and-dirty opening title track, though he goes for four-on-the floor with the fierier "Rumples," where the saxophonist and Rogers deliver a knotty, mind-bending theme of near-light speed velocity. Taborn holds down the bottom endnot only by contributing gritty bass lines, but with a disposition towards chordal accompaniment in the instrument's lower register. Smith is the group's unshakable yet empathic anchortightly locked in with Taborn while keeping his ears open to the rest of his band mates.
and Dave Hollandespecially the remarkable chemistry he shares with the bassist's longtime trombonist Robin Eubanksbut he deserves equal, if not more, accolades for his own work. He's one of the few saxophonists alive today who can build lengthy solos that avoid repetition and excess, the one clearly best- suited to carry on Michael Brecker's legacy. Like the late saxophonist, Potter is uncannily versatilenear-chameleonic, in factcapable of fitting into virtually any context and bringing a focused intent that can be, in turns, frighteningly powerful and painfully lyrical, as he is, respectively, on the intense "Small Wonder" and a tender rework of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe."
Potter's ascendance as one of his generation's most important saxophonists may be more the result of his outstanding work with trumpeter Dave Douglas
's balladic "Ladies of the Canyon"available as a digital bonus track but not on the CDhe morphs easily into the Orient-facing and episodically detailed "Facing East." Rogers demonstrates equal versatility,despite his own albums, including Apparitions (Criss Cross, 2005) and Time and the Infinite (Criss Cross, 2007), leaning more towards modern mainstream. Here he demonstrates his full breadth, ranging from sharp-toned and obliquely effected punctuations beneath Potter's solo on the title track to an equally abstruse but edgy solo on the high octane "Boots" and softer side on "Ladies of the Canyon."
Taborn's career has been defined by breadth and a nearly unparalleled encyclopedic knowledge that, like Potter and Rogers, makes him a perfect fit regardless of context. Soloing with relative economy on a gentle arrangement of Joni Mitchell
With a group this versatile, there's little Underground can't do. Still, it speaks with a clear voice that incorporates elements of M-Base mathematics, funk, fusion, and folkloric pop references into a unique mélange that, based on the trajectory of Underground, Follow the Red Line and, now, Ultrahang, has nowhere to continue but up.
Track Listing: Ultrahang; Facing East; Rumples; It Ain't Me Babe; Time's Arrow; Small Wonder; Boots; Interstellar Signals.
Personnel: Chris Potter: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Adam Rogers: guitar; Craig Taborn: Fender Rhodes; Nate Smith: drums.
Record Label: ArtistShare
Style: Modern Jazz