As noted in a post the other day 2023 is the 30th anniversary of the US tenor saxophonist's first album as a leader Presenting Chris Potter. This week Potter is not in Hogwarts or wielding a wand but instead finds himself once again at the greatest jazz club of them all and very familiar ground - the Village Vanguard in New York ahead of his 52nd birthday on New Year's Day. He is there with pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Marcus Gilmore.
Potter recorded in the band of Paul Motian at the Vanguard on four records issued between 2007 and 2010, notably the classic Lost in a Dream with pianist Jason Moran.
His own records at the Greenwich Village jazz shrine as a leader include Follow the Red Line (2007), Craig Taborn a link still from that much loved recording that appeared on Sunnyside.
The upcoming 2023 album is entitled Got the Keys to the Kingdom: Live at the Village Vanguard with the very same quartet that the saxist has there at the moment. Tracks are a mix of traditionals and standards according to listing sites: 'You Gotta Move'; 'Nozani Na'; Billy Strayhorn's 'Blood Count'; Charlie Parker's 'Klactoveedsedstene'; 'Olha Maria'; and the African-American spiritual and title track 'Got the Keys to the Kingdom.'
From the upcoming record the traditional 'You Gotta Move' is to be issued as a single on 13 January. If a Boomer you may well instantly think of the Rolling Stones version that appeared on 1971's Sticky Fingers.
The song goes back a helluva long way with an early recording (possibly the first) released as a four part gospel vocal in 1944 by The Willing Four. In recent years the great Louisiana born singer-songwriter and guitarist Lucinda Williams has delivered a fine version that bears the Stones' take on the song in mind.
In terms of the presence of heartland jazz on the album Billy Strayhorn's 'Blood Count' seems vital on paper looking at the list of tunes. Recorded by Duke Ellington not long after Strayhorn's death on the Duke's And His Mother Called Him Bill album of 1968 Strayhorn wrote the piece, his last finished composition, while in hospital undergoing cancer treatment.
Joe Henderson recorded a wonderful version of this beauty capturing its essential floating mysterious quality so wistfully on 1992's Lush Life. Perhaps Potter was thinking of JoeHen or even the earlier Stan Getz treatment when approaching the piece.
'Klactoveedsedstene' provides a more uptempo bebop core - in readiness a 1947 quintet recording of the Charlie Parker piece that featured Miles Davis is the one to plump for released in 1949. It isn't often recorded by today's jazzers. The best recent, and it's not at all recent, that we know is an avant 1990s take from Anthony Braxton.
On the African-American spiritual 'Got the Keys to the Kingdom' whether Potter's approach aligns with Bessie Johnson's from the 1920s, Josh White's, the 30s, or neither we will have to wait to figure out.
Recent albums of Potter's, also known for his work with Pat Metheny, Dave Holland and Steely Dan, include the 5-star Sunrise Reprise from 2021 and the unusual solo showcase There is a Tide. Potter continues his collaboration for this new release with England based Edition Records who are to release Got the Keys to the Kingdom: Live at the Village Vanguard on 17 February.
Chris Potter, top, press. The Got the Keys to the Kingdom: Live at the Village Vanguard, Edition cover art image is above. Updated with 'You Gotta Move' added on 13 January 2023