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Chris Potter: Follow The Red Line & Song For Anyone

Martin Longley By

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Chris Potter

Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard

Sunnyside

2007


Chris Potter

Song for Anyone

Sunnyside

2007


These two albums were released simultaneously, thereby making a deliberate feature of the contrast in their lineups, formats and feels. On Follow The Red Line, Potter returns to the Village Vanguard for another live disc, this one laid down in February 2007. His Underground quartet features personnel guaranteed to push his compositions up a harder incline. Craig Taborn is sitting exclusively at his dirtied Fender Rhodes, joined by guitarist Adam Rogers and drummer Nate Smith. There's no bassist in sight, but those frequencies are more than adequately handled by keys and six-stringer. Potter penned nearly all the disc's pieces, all averaging around 13 minutes apiece; ample time to drive a powerful rhythmic point deep into the bowels. Ed Blackwell's "Togo" is the only standard, if the old drummer's tune can be so termed, allowing Rogers (and, indeed, the others) to emulate a spiraling Afro guitar sound, with the leader deep-throating his bass clarinet. The opening "Train" tricks the audience into believing that probing hesitancy will ensue, but soon develops a light funk spring, which eventually darkens into a deeply-hammered groove, as Potter uncoils a thick lava solo, his tenor bolstered by bashing drums and jabbing Rhodes. Rogers is equally slow to rise and even though not all the album's tracks develop so gradually, their ultimate fate is to end up as bullish-nosed funkers, grooving hard. On "Arjuna," it's Taborn's turn to sully the atmosphere and Potter's at his honking, squealing height for "Viva Las Vilnius." The extended length of these numbers is a bonus, as their live crackle is properly encapsulated on plastic, a valuable souvenir of what must have been an electrifying residency.

The Song For Anyone album is another matter entirely. Potter's 10 is a, yes, 10-piece chamber jazz crew, featuring a suitably impressionistic lineup of flute, clarinet, bassoon, strings, plus guitar-led rhythm section. This is Potter's calmer, thoughtful side exposed, straight off into a billowy flute solo on the opening track, setting the general tone. Once again, Potter proves himself a prolific composer, writing and arranging everything. The man who might be called his mentor, Dave Holland, is swiveling in the producer's chair. This is jazz-classical fusion, but laminated with a curiously uninteresting finish. Ambitious though this music is, it fails to snag the ears. Ironically, the most engaging sequences are when Potter is soloing, flying above the string section prettiness. As a classical experience, this is too sweetly tonal and as jazz, it's a touch too prissy.

Tracks and Personnel



Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard

Tracks: Train; Arjune; Pop Tune #1; Viva Las Vilnius; Sea; Togo.

Personnel: Chris Potter: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Adam Rogers: guitar; Craig Taborn: Fender Rhodes; Nate Smith: drums.



Song for Anyone

Tracks: The Absence; Against the Wind; Closer to the Sun; Family Tree; Chief Seattle; Cupid and Psyche; Song for Anyone; The Arc of a Day; Estrellas del Sur; All by All.

Personnel: Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones; Erica von Kleist: flute; Greg Tardy: clarinet; Michael Rabinowitz: bassoon; Mark Feldman: violin; Lois Martin: viola; David Eggar: cello; Steve Cardenas: guitar; Scott Colley: bass; Adam Cruz: drums, percussion.

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