Jazz music, news and views

Friday, January 27, 2006

Chris Potter Goes Underground

Since coming into fame in the 1990s, reedsman Chris Potter has proved to be a formidable player destined for longevity. Though the sounds of Johnny Hodges and Paul Desmond introduced him into jazz, Potter's sound has now developed into a fiery, virtuosic voice that can no longer be ignored. He was playing professionally by the time he was a teenager, joined veteran trumpeter Red Rodney's group fresh out of the Manhattan School of Music, and has been exploring the possibilities of jazz ever since. Consequently, you can hear him alongside more adventurous players on the outskirts of the mainstream such as guitarists John Hart or Adam Rogers, pianist Kenny Werner, trumpeter Dave Douglas, the Mingus Big Band, and he currently holds a chair in Dave Holland's big band. (Also, he takes a great tenor solo on "West of Hollywood" from Steely Dan's Two Against Nature!)

This coming Tuesday, 1/31, Potter's new album Underground will hit the streets. Heavy grooves, cerebral funk, and sonic grime abound... Guitarist Wayne Krantz, drummer Nate Smith, and pianist Craig Taborn (on Rhodes) turn up the collective electricity here (Adam Rogers also makes an appearance). Fans of Joshua Redman's Elastic Band will enjoy the new album, though Potter's group is grittier and grungier. I always get excited when heavyweights like Potter are able to help shift jazz in a more modern direction. You might also note that there's no bass, but with so much sonic intrigue and funkiness already, I suppose it could've gotten crowded...

So, buy Underground.

Random note: Potter has suffered from bouts of Meniere's disease (symptoms include vertigo, tinnitus, low-frequency hearing loss) which resulted in near-hearing loss in one of his ears. His success in spite of these difficulties is quite a testament to his dedication to the art, not to mention his talent.


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