Chris Potter: Got The Keys To The Kingdom: Live At The Village VanguardBy
Some of Potter's greatest influences, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Joe Henderson, Joe Lovanoto name just a fewhave all left live albums for posterity, recorded in a venue that was originally home to folk singers and comedians when Max Gordon opened its doors in 1935.
Unlike Potter's two previous live albums of mostly original material, this third chapter, recorded in February 2022, comprises only standards, albeit less travelled ones. Potter is joined by Scott Colley, Craig Taborn and Marcus Gilmore, a powerhouse quartet by any yardstick. Subconsciously or not, Potter seems to channel some of the aforementioned influences, with the language of bop, post-bop, blues and folk coloring his playing more overtly than it has for some time now on his ECM and more funk-fuelled recordings. This is Potter at his burning, straight-ahead best.
On the fourteen-minute "You Gotta Move," a brilliant reworking of Mississippi Fred McDowell's acoustic version of the old spiritual, Potter builds patiently towards thrilling release, his burrowing tenor lines harboring little quotations that feel like nods to Rollins and Coltrane. Taborn too, takes his time, progressing from a gently bluesy course to splashy tumult akin to Sun Ra or Don Pullen. Gilmore also unleashes a snorter of a solo. As these volcanoes erupt around him, Colley calmly ploughs a furrow between steady pulse and quietly insinuating ostinatos that provide deeply alluring contrast.
It would be easy to imagine Coltrane's classic quartet tearing through "Nozani Na," a traditional Afro-Brazilian tune popularized by Heitor Villa-Lobos. Potter's quartet uses the mantra-like motif as a springboard to freely improvised passagesTaborn edgy and percussively aggressive, Potter melodically centred and yearning. Colley and Potter duet for the first three minutes of Chico Buraque, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes' beautifully melancholic "Ohla Maria," before piano and drums enter, treading lightly. Here, and on Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count," the quartet reins in its fiercer improvisatory instincts, with Potter content instead to explore the emotional depths of such bittersweet poetry.
There are no brakes on Charlie Parker's "Klactoveedsedstene," with Potter leading by ferocious example over fast-walking bass and insistent ride cymbal, paving the way for Gilmore's equally incendiary response. A consistently engaging set concludes with the title track, whose gospel-blues origins bookend fiery soloing, with Gilmore taking the final bow in thrilling fashion, over Potter's vamp, before an exclamative collective salute.
Potter has long-qualified as a jazz great, one of the preeminent modern-day saxophonists, and one who holds the key between past and present. Got The Keys To The Kingdom provides impassioned confirmation of that.
You Gotta Move; Nozani Na; Blood Count; Klactoveedsedstene; Olha Maria; Got The Keys To The Kingdom.
Chris Potter: saxophone; Scott Colley: bass; Craig Taborn: piano; Marcus Gilmore: drums.
Title: Got The Keys To The Kingdom: Live At The Village Vanguard | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Edition Records
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About Chris Potter
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