Looking ahead to Got the Keys to the Kingdom: a new Vanguard quartet recording from Chris Potter

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 …

Published: 27 Dec 2022. Updated: 20 days.

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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

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Track of the day: Boosted - Yvonnick Prené

One of those situations when just about everyone on the album is far better known than the leader. 'Boosted' as if to compensate was nevertheless written by the leader French harmonica player Yvonnick Prené who delivers the head bobbing …

Published: 26 Dec 2022. Updated: 38 days.

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One of those situations when just about everyone on the album is far better known than the leader. 'Boosted' as if to compensate was nevertheless written by the leader French harmonica player Yvonnick Prené who delivers the head bobbing sharps-and-flats strewn syncopated head riding on the back of a shuffling groove in Bristol fashion.

According to issuing label Sunnyside the piece explaining the name given to it was written by Prené when the wiz ''fell ill after his Covid vaccination booster''. Once again Jeremy Pelt (qv The Heavy Hitters) produces although he's not on this particular track. Wait for the trumpet icon on Listen! selection Victor Feldman-Miles Davis classic 'Seven Steps to Heaven' to go full Pelt into one when the whole album is out in early-2023.

The 'Boosted' tenor sax line is by the formidable Dayna Stephens while the combination's pianist is Kevin Hays who was recently in London playing at the Vortex with singer Lily Lyons.

Hays holds the distinction of having appeared on Chris Potter's 1993 released debut as a leader, Presenting Chris Potter. Listen how his piano lines dance around the muted trumpet and sax lines in the deliciously mournful head on 'Uneasy Dreams' never getting in the way but always vital as a navigator. I wonder what, if anything, Potter has in the pipeline to mark this 30th anniversary milestone in 2023.

Much more recently Hays was superb last year on All Things Are.

Renowned John Scofield drummer Bill Stewart (Meant to Be, Hand Jive - mighty with Don Alias behind Larry Goldings seemingly going all Mo Allison 'Parchman Farm'-like on 'Whip the Mule') and bassist Clovis Nicolas complete the rhythm section. Chromatic harmonica however counter intuitively works well as a lead instrument and it's all handsomely recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's.

Get a head get a hat: Yvonnick Prené photo: detail from the cover art. Listen! is out on 20 January