219

Chris Potter: Transatlantic

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
He's not exactly been quiet, performing with drummer Paul Motian's trio on Lost in a Dream (ECM, 2010), and continuing his ongoing relationship with Dave Holland, recently heard on tour with the bassist's flagship quintet at the 2011 Montreal Jazz Festival, but it's been two years since Chris Potter released Ultrahang (ArtistShare, 2009), his last date as a leader. Transatlantic ends Potter's recording hiatus, teaming the influential saxophonist with Denmark's DR Big Band for a brass-heavy set more orchestral in its approach than, say, Holland's groove-heavy big band.

That's not to say Potter's years with Holland haven't rubbed off on his approach to writing and arranging this new repertoire, but despite Transatlantic's closer alignment to the big band tradition than the intimate chamber jazz of the saxophonist's Song for Anyone (Sunnyside, 2007), it shares a similar penchant for color that's equal parts Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler. Still, this is propulsive music, the closing 11-minute "Rumination" revolving around a gently pulse from Søren Frost that opens into tumultuous but still groove-conscious free play from the drummer when Potter takes a muscular tenor solo that's boosted by the fourteen trumpets, trombones and reeds which punctuate in alternation, before a mid-section rest that leads to a burnished solo from trombonist Steen Hansen.

There are trace elements of Potter's electro-centricities on the knottily contrapuntal "The Steppes," with guitarist Per Gade flying from lithe, bop-centric lines to moments of harsher sonics and searing flights of overdriven abandon, but this is, for the most part, a brash and brassy acoustic big band date, driven by a solid rhythm section that, in addition to Frost, is unfailingly anchored by bassist Kaspar Vadsholt. Pianist Magnus Hjort is quietly impressive, going beyond the charts to provide spare but effective support during passages where the horns are silent and Potter is soloing over the core quintet as he does after Gade on "The Steppes," over a visceral 9/8 pulse driven by Frost's firm backbeat.

It may be a challenge for some to maintain the kind of energy and inventiveness Potter does throughout Transatlantic as featured soloist, but his years with Holland and as an emergent leader have proven him one of his generation's few players capable of sustaining himself over longer forms. Unlike most big band projects, Potter eschews passing solos around the entire ensemble like batons in a relay, instead provide focused and lengthy features for four of its members—in addition to Gade and Hansen, Frost taking an ostinato-driven solo of tremendous drive and construction on "Abyssinia," while on the structurally complex "New Year's Day," trumpeter Mads la Cour serves as yet another potent reminder of the kind of talent hiding in so many corners around the world, just waiting to be heard.

Transatlantic may wax heavy on the solo front, but it's always in service of Potter's detailed charts, which demonstrate continued growth as a writer/arranger. He may largely work in small group contexts, but Transatlantic proves Potter's increasing mettle as a leader in any context, as compelling for its long-form charts as it is its ever-perfect capacity to inspire expansive but always completely relevant improvisation.

Track Listing: Quick; The Steppes; Interlude; New Year's Day; Narrow Road; Abyssinia; Totally; Rumination.

Personnel: Chris Potter: saxophone, conductor; Anders Gustafsson: trumpet; Christer Gustafsson: trumpet; Thomas Kjærgaar: trumpet; Mads la Cour: trumpet; Gerard Presencer: trumpet; Vincent Nilsson: trombone; Steen Hansen: trombone; Peter Jensen: trombone; Jakob Munck: trombone; Nicolai Schultz: reeds; Peter Fuglsang: reeds; Lars Møller: reeds; Uffe Markussen: reeds; Pelle Fridell: reeds; Magnus Hjort: piano; Kaspar Vadsholt: acoustic bass; Søren Frost: drums; Per Gade; guitar.

Title: Transatlantic | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Red Dot Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Float Upstream CD/LP/Track Review Float Upstream
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Extremophile CD/LP/Track Review Extremophile
by John Sharpe
Published: September 26, 2017
Read The Source CD/LP/Track Review The Source
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Setembro CD/LP/Track Review Setembro
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Comes Love - A Tribute To Ella Fitzgerald And Joe Pass" CD/LP/Track Review Comes Love - A Tribute To Ella Fitzgerald And Joe Pass
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere" CD/LP/Track Review Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere
by Mike Jacobs
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Two Hands, One Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Two Hands, One Heart
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Counteract This Turmoil Like Trees And Birds" CD/LP/Track Review Counteract This Turmoil Like Trees And Birds
by John Sharpe
Published: August 3, 2017
Read "Scratches Of Spain" CD/LP/Track Review Scratches Of Spain
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 9, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.