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Chris Potter's latest is more than a great jazz record


Chris Potter, "The Dreamer Is The Dream" (ECM)

Utterly undeniable about Chris Potter's third and newest record for ECM is that its "cross-generational mix of personalities feels special." The two finest omni-saxophonists around were born within a year of each other -- James Carter and Potter, both of whom are in their very early '40's. Both of whom play all reeds but are especially formidable on tenor saxophone.

In a perfect world someone would figure out a way for them to play together. In the meantime, Carter is under-recorded these days and Potter is one of the most wonderfully visible and busy musicians in jazz. What you have to understand about Potter is that his first regular gig was with Bird's trumpet player Red Rodney and one of his earliest fans was pianist Marian McPartland. His feel for ballads is exquisitely lyrical. His uptempo playing features both prodigious chops and a musical imagination which is both unique and profound.

From his generation on this disc is his bassist  Joe Martin, with whom, he says, "we used to play in all the same bands in New York clubs back in the '90s." His young pianist David Virelles and drummer Marcus Gilmore, he says, have "this particular generational character" about the way they play. What he confesses is that "one of the challenges in jazz is that we have to ask ourselves how comfortable we are working in a different way from the time before--and pushing past that."

He does that here as well as play straight ahead jazz on tenor and soprano as well as anyone in his generation. His soprano tone is, unlike Steve Lacy's or John Coltrane's, almost as beautiful as Jane Ira Bloom's sometimes. This isn't just a great jazz record; it's almost exemplary of how it should be done in our era.

4 stars (out of four)

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