JJ 11/93: Chris Potter Quintet – Presenting

Thirty years ago David Badham got the end of the stick he was looking for, notwithstanding a few modernist squeaks and screeches. First published in Jazz Journal November 1993


This is a very nice leadership debut by a young (22) US saxo­phonist who has most recently been honing his skills with Red Rodney.

Potter mainly plays tenor but also alto and soprano and has an attractive tone on each. There are a few modernist squeaks and screeches but not too many, and his solos are all properly shaped and rounded off in proper musi­cal conclusions. This praise­worthy (for 1993!) attribute is par­ticularly evident in the two smaller groups where he plays a lyrical alto on Reflections and leads an excellent trio on tenor on Solar where bass and drums con­tribute equally to a very satisfying six minutes. He plays soprano only on Cindy’s Story but in no way does this sound like a subsidiary instrument and the ensemble combination with Swana on flugelhorn is harmoni­cally most pleasing. Kevin Hays contributes a fine piano solo on the latter, too, and the rhythm section make this a star track.

Potter’s best tenor work is on Juggernaut and General Rodney (his own compositions – and good ones) both of which really move. Swana’s trumpet work is mainly in the high registers in the contemporary US brass fashion, but while a bit ‘spitty’ (e.g., on Rodney), it is not discordant, and in the ensembles his understand­ing with Potter is almost uncanny.

A fine issue which should please all but avowed avant-gardists. Congratulations, too, to Gerry Teekens and Criss Cross for this excellent follow up to two other recent issues in similar vein, Tad Shull’s Deep Passion (1047) and Hod O’Brien’s Opalessence (1012); he seems to be building a fine stable of the more musical of contemporary American players. Recom­mended.

(1) Juggernaut; Uneasy Dreams; The Tail That Wags The Dog; (2) Reflections; (1) So Far; (3) Solar; (1) Cindy’s Story; General Rodney (65.39)
(1) John Swana (t/flh); Chris Potter (as/ts/ss); Kevin Hays (p); Christian McBride (b); Lewis Nash (d). (2) as (1) but Swana out. (3) as (2) but Hays out. NYC, December 29, 1992.
(Criss Cross CRISS 1067 CD)