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Follow the Red Line: Live At the Village Vanguard

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Album Review

Chris Potter's quartet Underground should be looked upon as one of the many facets in the saxophonist's prismatic view of contemporary jazz. Certainly the band is oriented toward a progressive jazz image with the electric guitar work of the brilliant Adam Rogers and Craig Taborn's witty and pungent Fender Rhodes keyboard. Assumedly the concept of Underground harks somewhat to the fusion of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea. But Potter's vision with this combo goes beyond those static and funkier values, entering a wilder, unabashed, and fierce aggression that cannot be corralled. In live performance at the storied Village Vanguard nightclub in Greenwich Village, you expect and receive long drawn-out compositions, extended solos especially from Potter, and new music tried out as audience experiments. "Train" is a long 16-minute trip, with mixed meters starting in 3/4 and going to 6/8, building momentum and leading to alternating beats of nine and seven and Potter's extended opening salvo solo. This is intense music — sliced, diced, marinated, and flash-seared by Potter. "Arjuna" (not the Yusef Lateef composition) is a spectral sound analysis, lower key and illuminated, with a drum solo from Nate Smith, a Rhodes solo, choppy sax, and a workout from Potter and Rogers. Fond of interval leaps and overblown harmonic displacements, Potter's tenor is driven during "Viva Las Vilnius" over a quirky rhythmic idea meshed with a funky bottom end and Latin or ethnic inferences. The last two pieces of the set are decidedly settled, as Taborn's soulful electric piano on the sparse ballad "Zea" places the group in a calmer place and Potter plays delicate bass clarinet in an upper register atypical of its usual throaty sound. The finale, "Togo," is a version of the great melodic composition drummer Ed Blackwell brought to the repertoire of Old and New Dreams. It's very well rendered, with Potter sticking to bass clarinet, understating the melody with reverence and respect before Taborn goes crazy, stepping up the vibe into a funky mode while Potter switches to tenor and plays the calmer final chorus. For Potter's fans, this is a worthwhile addition to his growing discography. Considering Potter as a new music composer, this indicates how his music is changing and still flowering, and in a developmental stage. Evidently Potter and the audience were very pleased with the results, and perhaps a second volume of these sessions is in the can. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

This is the future of jazz listening

chris potter is so good at what he does it should be illegal. As soon as Train started grooving I had this overwhelming feeling that Chris Potter is better than anybody out there. Plus my foot was tapping uncontrollably. And being Chris Potter means you can choose some of the best musicians in the world, which is exactly what the hell he did. Look, if your an inspiring jazz musician, start listening to this guy fervently. Try to find some of his transcriptions. just try to listen to this album without your head exploding, because this guy is BANANAS.

Follow The Red Line - Chris Potter

He's gone beyond. With improvisation now at home with chromaticism, where do we go from here? He plays well off of the underlying rhythms while exploring the whole chromatic universe - yet keeping a tonal center for reference. He's a virtuoso. His melodic lines are solid. It's simply sound and rhythm used as expression. The soundscapes in the electronic world we are now developing come next - but hopefully always as an additional texture alongside live sound - not as an end in itself.

Wow, this album is thick

Totally agree. This album is thick. Chris can lay it down on the Sax. The music is deep and makes me just go sick in the head. Nicely played. I love this kind of Jazz. It is new and old at the same time. Staying true to the heart of Jazz, but bringing a totally fresh and innovative flavor to the music. Well done.

Follow the Red Line: Live At the Village Vanguard, Chris Potter Underground
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Customer Ratings