474

Chris Potter: Unspoken

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
Twenty-seven year old reed man Chris Potter made a big splash on his 1992 debut as a leader for Criss Cross. He showed remarkable promise not only in tenor sax work, but also on alto, soprano, bass clarinet and alto flute. On this one he sticks to tenor and soprano, but his playing is no less fluent and capable. An all-star lineup joins the former Steely Dan and Joe Henderson sideman for this date: John Scofield on guitar, Dave Holland on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. All four are in top form for this album, which manages to be warm, smooth, inviting, and adventurous all in one package.

Potter shows that he's been doing his homework. "Wistful," the opening track, veers perilously close to Coltrane Imitator Wasteland, but Potter skirts the edge of homage without lapsing into slavish regurgitation. "Hieroglyph" recalls Coltrane on soprano, complete with a tasty proto-world music ostinato from Holland, but again, Potter's playing is fresh and involving. "Seven Eleven," on the other hand, makes you wonder if Chris was digging into his Ornette collection. Then "Amsterdam Blues" starts with an unaccompanied tenor of such quality that I became sure I'd find some of the works of Mr. Sonny Rollins over at Chris's house. Still and all, Potter is a player of enormous talent who is already far along in synthesizing these and other influences. This is a fine album, but I'll bet I'll like his release of 2007 even better.

The highlight here is "Et Tu, Brute?", the album's most striking track. Scofield contributes some scalding guitar licks to a rhythmically complex workout requiring some careful listening by the quartet. Of course, these guys are old hands, and they come through. With no loss of energy, the lovely title track follows, featuring some tasty arco by Holland and passionate playing by everyone. "Time Zone" is as far out as this one gets, with some remarkable variations of mood and tempo a free section of great vigor. Potter is clearly the star here, proving he's worthy of the company he keeps.

The legendary trumpeter Red Rodney loved this "kid:" "This kid is exactly what I like to hear in a kid. He sucked up everything like a sponge, but his sound is original; his articulation is different from anybody; his harmonic knowledge is profound." Red was right. The kid has a great tone, great chops, and by the way, he wrote all the tunes. While this is relatively common these days, Potter's tunes show a wealth of good sense, imagination, and care. He's paid attention to architectonics, and it shows.

Unspoken is a solid album from start to finish. The sidemen are top-notch throughout, and the leader doesn't disappoint. I'll be interested to check out Chris Potter's future work.


Title: Unspoken | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Wobbly Danse Flower CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Danse Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Carry Fire CD/LP/Track Review Carry Fire
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2017
Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "No Secrets No Lies" CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Grace" CD/LP/Track Review Grace
by James Nadal
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "Live From A&R Studios New York August 26th 1971" CD/LP/Track Review Live From A&R Studios New York August 26th 1971
by Doug Collette
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Numbers" CD/LP/Track Review Numbers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 2017
Read "Someone Else" CD/LP/Track Review Someone Else
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 7, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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