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Catching Up With

Chris Potter: The Personal Stamp

By Published: August 21, 2012
All the music for the Unity Band is written by the guitarist. Potter finds no quarrel with it. In fact, he has fun playing the music, which has different moods and textures. Some are more electric, instrument-wise. Some reflective. Potter evens plays some bass clarinet. He says Metheny's tunes "always have melodies that are enjoyable to 'sing.' That's the first thing I noticed. He's also good at writing enough rhythmic and harmonic information to make a song interesting, but not so much that you get bogged down in the details when you're trying to improvise over it."



As for the saxophonist himself, as he continues to play important sideman gigs as well as develop his own music and his own playing, Potter has his shoulder to the wheel. He always has. He started on alto sax at the age of 10 and steadily made a march up to the high echelons of jazz, influenced along the way by the likes of Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
, Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, Dewey Redman
Dewey Redman
Dewey Redman
b.1931
sax, tenor
and Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, among others.

"I'm always working on trying to improve, so I hope those changes are improvements. A lot of my growth has to do with how to keep up a high level of intensity without forcing things. At least that's my goal." And jazz improvisation is still as big a challenge as ever for Potter. "I've been very lucky to have had all the experiences. I've had with so many inspiring musicians; they've all helped me to grow as a musician and as a person. I just hope to continue this journey for as long as I can, and hopefully use my abilities to their fullest so I can contribute something of my own."

He has more on his plate besides the heavy Metheny tour. He's part of Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman
b.1969
saxophone
's Axis Quartet, an all-sax group that will be getting some gigs when Redman's busy schedule allows. Redman, Potter, Mark Turner
Mark Turner
Mark Turner
b.1965
sax, tenor
and Chris Cheek
Chris Cheek
Chris Cheek
b.1968
saxophone
played to an appreciative audience in July at the North Sea Jazz festival in the Netherlands. The saxophones melded in interesting ways, with Potter playing mainly tenor. Speed held down the bass parts with baritone sax. Each was able to show some of their unique solo styles.

Potter's own band will go to China later this year. Early next year, he has an album coming out on the ECM label with a different band. "It's an acoustic group with Eric Harland
Eric Harland
Eric Harland
b.1976
drums
on drums, Larry Grenadier
Larry Grenadier
Larry Grenadier
b.1966
bass
on bass, Craig Taborn
Craig Taborn
Craig Taborn
b.1970
keyboard
on acoustic piano, and David Virelles
David Virelles
David Virelles
b.1983
piano
on some other keyboard instruments. I'm hoping to be able to do a fair amount of touring next year with that music, and I'm also hoping to keep the Underground band working as well."

Selected Discography

Pat Metheny, Unity Band (Nonesuch, 2012)

Chris Potter, Transatlantic (Red Dot Music, 2011)

Chris Potter, Ultrahang (ArtistShare, 2009)

Chris Potter, Underground (Sunnyside, 2006)

Dave Holland, Not For Nothin (ECM, 2004)

Chris Potter, Gratitude (Verve, 2001)

Photo Credits

Page 1: Tamas Talaber

Page 2: Jimmy Katz


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