473

Chris Potter: Gratitude

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Potter: Gratitude
Chris Potter is probably the second most famous young tenor player working today, Joshua Redman being the clear numero uno. After releasing over a half-dozen albums for Criss Cross and Concord, Potter now makes the leap to a major label, Verve, with the excellent Gratitude.

Jazz is a lethargic sales category, so major labels often like jazz artists to do concept albums — usually tributes to legends both living and dead — to attract the attention of otherwise indifferent consumers. But tributes often seem self-conscious and forced, stultifying the artist’s individual voice by imposing an artificial agenda upon it. Happily, Gratitude escapes this fate. It’s a generalized tribute, an acknowledgement of saxophone greats (eleven of them, to be exact) who have influenced Potter and continue to do so. (McCoy Tyner made a similar gesture with Jazz Roots. ) The idea seems to flow naturally from Potter’s artistic self-image, and so it serves him well.

Rather than clutter the record with guest artists and the like, producer Jason Olaine wisely has Potter sticking with a quartet all the way through. And as quartets go, this one couldn’t be more burning — joining the saxophonist are Kevin Hays on piano and Rhodes (sounding better than ever), Scott Colley on bass, and Brian Blade on drums. The group focuses on Potter’s originals for an unbroken stretch of nine tracks, beginning with the Coltrane dedication "The Source," cleverly based on "Mr. Day" blues changes. Not until late in the program does Potter start to tackle standards, and when he does, it’s with an unconventional flair. He interprets "Body and Soul" on bass clarinet, in duo with Colley — a nice update on the version found on 1995’s Sundiata (Criss Cross). He plays alto, fittingly, on the Bird tribute "Star Eyes," with Hays laying out. And he closes the album with a solo tenor reading of "What’s New?", intending the title as a double entendre, a rhetorical question about the prospects for innovation among the current generation of jazz artists. Sandwiched between these standards is the original "Vox Humana," a tribute to Ornette Coleman, on which Potter plays a Chinese wood flute — one among many creative breakthroughs on this refined, rewarding disc.

Track Listing

1. The Source (for John Coltrane) 2. Shadow (for Joe Henderson) 3. Sun King (for Sonny Rollins) 4. High Noon (for Eddie Harris) 5. Eurydice (for Wayne Shorter) 6. The Mind.

Personnel

Chris Potter, tenor, alto, and soprano saxes, bass clarinet, alto flute, Chinese wood flute; Kevin Hays, piano, Fender Rhodes; Scott Colley, bass; Brian Blade, drums.

Album information

Title: Gratitude | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Verve Music Group

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Shapeshifters
Reuter / Motzer / Grohowski
Tales From The Jacquard
Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra
Dreamer
Pamai Chirdkiatisak
Music Room 1985
Wayne Krantz

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.