Thursday, July 08, 2021

Chris Potter - Sunrise Reprise (Edition Records, 2021)

After his touring schedule was terminated by the pandemic, saxophonist Chris Potter turned his attention to the composing of new music. In late 2020, a lessening of restrictions led his trio, consisting of keyboardist James Francies and drummer Eric Harland to create their first studio session. Potter was deeply effected by lockdown, BLM protests, climate woes of 2020 and this affected his playing, as he looked for a release to create and express himself. The opening track "Sunrise and Joshua Trees" presents trippy electronics, as the saxophone builds in with drumming. The electronics are developing new atmospheres and textures for the saxophone and drums to evolve with and against. The music seems quite ethereal, gradually gaining focus and strength through development. More strident saxophone takes effect on "Southbound," a reminder of how potent Potter can be given the right circumstance, with the complexity of the theme giving way to an open setting for collective improvisation and saxophone letting loose over funky keyboard and percussion accompaniment, as Potter develops one of his finest solo statements on the whole album, and the keyboard and drum team are given generous room to display their skills as well. The group fades in playing a very funky and infectious theme for "Serpentine," working very tight and flying in formation, before breaking out into a more spacious area for a complicated and impressive saxophone feature building to very exciting peaks as the solo develops. Potter shows a great deal of stamina, playing with wit and energy, really pushing things into the stratosphere. There is a break for wide ranging electronic sounds and drumming creating an interesting soundscape in the absence of the leader, building an heavy electro-percussive fantasia. Disparate sounds like acoustic piano, electronic bass and fertile drumming lead to scorching saxophone at the end. "Nowhere, Now Here/Sunrise Reprise" is a massive twenty four and a half minute closing epic, with Potter opening with some quite beautiful flute playing. Developing a brisk theme by the three musicians in a fast paced manner, then carving out space for a muscular tenor saxophone solo over crisp drumming and keyboard accompaniment. Well paced and architecturally sound saxophone leads to spirited acoustic piano flourish, running through a wide creative sphere, electro-acoustic keyboards with drumming, trying all different kinds of textures and approaches throughout this massive track. This album is a grower, there is distinctive writing and playing throughout the record, particularly from the leader who plays saxophone with genuine gusto, regardless of the setting. Sunrise Reprise -

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