All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live From Philadelphia

5

February 2013: Chris Potter Quartet

RJ Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Potter Quartet

Chris' Jazz Café

Philadelphia, PA

February 22, 2013

Although no longer considered the essential destination for working jazz groups that it once was, Philadelphia is still visited by high-level talent from New York that occasionally ventures south to perform in the city's one consistent jazz venue. Despite the current lack of mainstream interest in jazz, in Philadelphia or elsewhere, the Chris Potter Quartet performed two sets for a crowd which filled every seat, barstool, and available standing room well before show time.

Potter is known for offering a constantly evolving range of musical output. His individual projects often feature completely unique personnel choices, and each new recording seems to hint at a new overall musical direction. His latest recording, The Sirens (ECM, 2012), was inspired by Homer's "The Odyssey," and musically reflected the desire to fuse ethereal composition with strongly rooted post-bop sensibilities. Most of the band featured on the record joined Potter for both sets, including bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Eric Harland, and pianist David Virelles.

During the evening's performance, Potter displayed his well developed skills as a doubler, often playing the melody to certain tunes on tenor saxophone before switching to soprano saxophone for his solo. Potter began the Paul Motian composition "The Owl of Cranston" with a rubato bass clarinet introduction with the solidity of a classical soloist. His fiery tenor playing was in full form, displaying a more straight ahead style than the funk inspired, groove-based improvisations heard on albums such as Underground (Sunny Side, 2006).

One of the more striking features of the evening's performance was the ubiquitous nature of the band's interactions. Although Potter either composed or arranged all of the music, there were instances in which the band could have just as easily been following the musical direction of Virelles more so that Potter himself. Particularly during solos, Virelles seemed to coax more energy from the rhythm section than Potter, simultaneously weaving angular lines within knotty fragments of extended chordal passages. The dynamic variation was far more varied, and the group displayed a strongly noticeable musical empathy under Virelles' lead. His advanced rhythmic sensibilities were shown on his solo introduction to the new Chris Potter composition "Kalypso," a tune which also featured a solo from Harland.

Harland and Grenadier brought forth unique sides of their musicality, which are sometimes taken for granted, perhaps, given their strength as individual soloists. Both were able to accurately navigate charts which were still fairly new while retaining an artistically transcendental separation from the written music. Harland was twice featured as a soloist, drawing applause each time before the solo was even completed. Perhaps the highest compliment came from the attentiveness of his band mates, who appeared to be equally as engaged as the audience, rather than simply keeping track of the form. Harland proved that, despite his unbelievable technique, a devotion to the music at hand is far more important than displaying physical prowess. His ability to frame the work of the individual soloists perfectly complimented the raw energy put forth during his own solos.

With such a large crowd in attendance for a one-night-only performance, it is curious to see such a small number of New York-based groups making the trip south to Philadelphia. Whether it is an issue of finance, logistics, or simply conflicting schedules, Philadelphia has proven that, if given the chance, they can display their affinity for the music which the city was once known for. Perhaps more musicians will take notice and help in putting the city back on the map for today's most accomplished jazz musicians.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Orion Tango at Kung Fu Necktie Live From Philadelphia
Orion Tango at Kung Fu Necktie
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 9, 2017
Read Glenn Zaleski Trio at Chris' Jazz Cafe Live From Philadelphia
Glenn Zaleski Trio at Chris' Jazz Cafe
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 8, 2017
Read Sittin' In with the Odean Pope Trio at the Kimmel Center Live From Philadelphia
Sittin' In with the Odean Pope Trio at the Kimmel...
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 16, 2017
Read Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio at Germantown Settlement School Live From Philadelphia
Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio at Germantown Settlement School
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 30, 2016
Read Tord Gustavsen with Simin Tander and Jarle Vespestad at Fringe Arts Live From Philadelphia
Tord Gustavsen with Simin Tander and Jarle Vespestad at...
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 24, 2016
Read Center City Jazz Fest: Five Years Strong Live From Philadelphia
Center City Jazz Fest: Five Years Strong
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 6, 2016
Read "Sittin' In with the Odean Pope Trio at the Kimmel Center" Live From Philadelphia Sittin' In with the Odean Pope Trio at the Kimmel...
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Orion Tango at Kung Fu Necktie" Live From Philadelphia Orion Tango at Kung Fu Necktie
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Glenn Zaleski Trio at Chris' Jazz Cafe" Live From Philadelphia Glenn Zaleski Trio at Chris' Jazz Cafe
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center" Live Reviews Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "Green Mountain Jazz" Multiple Reviews Green Mountain Jazz
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Steve Roach from California State University in Sacramento" Jazz Goes to College Steve Roach from California State University in Sacramento
by Debbie Burke
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Stuttgart Jazz Open 2017" In Pictures Stuttgart Jazz Open 2017
by Jean-Francois Kalka
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Groovin’ Hard In Every Style" From the Inside Out Groovin’ Hard In Every Style
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world" Interviews Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: February 24, 2017