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Multi-reedist and composer Chris Potter has been an in-demand artist since his late teen years when he began playing the New York clubs. With a diverse catalog that runs from Steely Dan to regular collaborations with Dave Holland, Potter has picked up a number of Grammy nominations and wins. His versatile abilities have made him equally at home touring with the lyrical Jim Hall or recording in the angular style of Steve Swallow's Damaged in Transit (WATT/ECM, 2003). The Dreamer Is the Dream is Potter's third leader release on the ECM label.
Potter pares back from the large ensemble that accompanied him on his previous ECM outing Imaginary Cities (2015). This quartet includes ECM artist David Virelles, whose Mbókò (2016) and Antenna (2016), were widely acclaimed. The young Cuban pianist is becoming a staple player for the label, appearing as part of the Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet December Avenue (2017). Bassist Joe Martin has led on two recordings, Passage (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2001) with Mark Turner, Kevin Hays and Jorge Rossy (drums) and Not by Chance (Anzic, 2009), a quartet that included Potter, Brad Mehldau and drummer Marcus Gilmore. Gilmore himself fills out the quartet lending a solid synergistic make-up to the group. The grandson and early student of Roy Haynes, began playing with Steve Coleman at the age of fifteen and later with Vijay Iyer.
Potter's smoky, dark tenor opens the album on "Heart In Hand" to the lyrical accompaniment of Virelles, the piece eventually building to a more fevered pitch. "Ilimba" begins as a fairly mainstream composition that quickly morphs and infuses a fast-paced Latin theme, then opens up to a broader improvisation. Potter breaks out the bass clarinet on the title track where Martin has the opportunity for a vibrant bass solo. The leader switches back to the tenor for an extended duet with Gilmore as the atmospheric tune concludes. The sounds of nature and chimes open "Memory And Desire" as Potter's soprano sax flutters in with a perfect sensory blending and the piece takes on a pastoral atmosphere. More exotic is "Yasodhara" which opens to a fiery improvisation from Potter, toned down for the relatively tranquil closer, "Sonic Anomaly."
The Dreamer Is the Dream is a testament to Potter's composing as much as to his multi-reed instrumentality. He penned each of the compositions here and they all speak to a deeper sense of mortality, portrayed through lyricism and emotive performances. Potter's responsiveness as a leader shines through in the beautifully orchestrated work of this quartet. One of Potter's best to date.
Heart in Hand; Ilimba; The Dreamer Is the Dream; Memory and Desire; Yasodhara;
Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; David Virelles: piano,
keyboards; Joe Martin: double bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums, percussion.