Saxophonist Chris Potter has become one of the leading lights of the mainstream jazz scene, playing with the likes of Dave Holland and Paul Motian, and recording several albums as a leader. But seldom have we had the opportunity to hear him as the featured soloist in a big band. On this project, he is the composer, arranger and principal soloist with the Danish Radio Big Band, and this gives us a chance to hear several different aspects of Potter as a complete musician rather than just a great saxophonist. Standout tracks include "The Steppes" which has a snarling electric guitar solo, like something out of Potter's Underground or Ultrahang bands, giving way to the horns that slowly build in and take over. Potter takes a strong tenor saxophone solo of mounting tension, before the horns return to frame him, before once again breaking him loose for a solo tag ending. "New Years Day" shows the horns riffing at a medium tempo opening. Chris Potter builds his solo like a master architect, piece by piece adding to the music and shaping it into a strong aerodynamic statement over bass and drum support. Punctuating horns from the ensemble add some fire, before dropping back to a low end arrangement that concludes with a sweet buttery trumpet (or flugelhorn) solo. Mellow tenor saxophone with just bass and drums in accompaniment open "Narrow Road" with the arrangement for light and patient horns building in a swirling, brassy manner. Patient tenor saxophone probes around the setting, weaving in and around before taking an unaccompanied break. The potent "Abyssinia" takes its strength from a strong, brassy opening, giving Potter the updraft to power his solo and allow him to soar like a bird in flight with a powerful, confident and very well paced solo. After an electric guitar interlude, powerful horns and Potter's graceful saxophone strike the final blow over strong and agile drumming. This was a well done album, Chris Potter's compositions, arrangements and especially his saxophone playing were uniformly excellent. Hopefully we'll continue to hear him in a variety of formats from small groups to big band, because he is clearly a man of many talents and interests. Transatlantic - amazon.com
Send comments to Tim.