The only tenor sax player you can say is a true musical heir in a number of ways including stylistically, sheer virtuosity and in allied playing situations to Michael Brecker, Chris Potter returns with a late-April release called The Dreamer is the Dream again on his fairly long time label ECM and with a band that this time features Cuban pianist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Marcus Gilmore the last of these names the diminutive player best known as the Haynesian one in the Vijay Iyer trio and in Chick Corea’s The Vigil.
Where were we up to with Potter? Well I’ll be frank: I haven’t listened to much of him since enjoying the five star The Sirens (2013). One of the last times I saw him live was in 2011 with McCoy Tyner in a less than perfect night when José James wasn't really feeling it but Potter was and I have never heard anyone play ‘My One and Only Love’ or any ballad on the saxophone for that matter as movingly and perfectly as he did that night playing music from John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.
If he doesn't make a finer record than The Sirens (and Potter is only currently 46) then that achievement may well be more than enough in any ultimate reckoning. I didn’t enjoy Imaginary Cities (2015) so much mainly because its scale and density overpowered me but I was in the minority there and it picked up a lot of good reviews.
More recently with Dave Holland he has excelled as a sideman within the band Aziza.
Listen above to the first track of the Aziza self titled debut released back in October.
Moving towards The Dreamer is The Dream I’ll try to write more when I get a chance to hear it but fact fans will be saddened to know so far that there are few details. The Potter website says nothing about the new release for the moment possibly because his label are insisting on their rigidly established silence-and-all-in-good-time policy apart that is from putting the packshot up on Amazon! But what his site does say is that this month Potter is touring in the States with an all star heritage package that includes Danilo Pérez and trumpeter Avishai Cohen in a Jazz 100 show that marks the centenaries of Diz, Monk, Ella and Mongo Santamaria, a tour that includes a visit to Chicago where Potter was born in January 1971.
Going back into the Potter annals, he first really got noticed in New York in the late-1980s according that is to the few remaining relatively fragile fragments from the jazz lore scrolls, performing with the former Bird veteran trumpeter Red Rodney. Potter collected the lucrative Danish Jazzpar Prize in a major early career boost and quickly became known as a young monster of a player performing or recording with Herbie Hancock, the Dan, Pat Metheny and John Scofield and making his own records.
He is playing the Cheltenham Jazz Festival on 30 April just as the new record is released, his advertised band to appear in the Pizza Express Live Arena is flagged up as featuring the same pianist and bassist in Virelles and Martin from the album plus a different drummer, the Jason Moran Bandwagon’s Nasheet Waits, son of drummer’s drummer the revered Freddie Waits (the Karma and Grass Roots player on those classic Pharoah Sanders and Andrew Hill records), coming in for Gilmore.