Chris Potter: Eagle’s Point

'Supergroup' might be PR gush but Potter, Brad Mehldau, John Patitucci and Brian Blade play their soft ’n' bop pieces very well

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“The supergroups of all supergroups” is what the publicity says. Whilst this is almost certainly the ramblings of the PR department and not the band members themselves, it would be difficult – with a lineup featuring Chris Potter, Brad Mehldau, John Patitucci and Brian Blade – to argue that this is anything but a group of super musicians.

Potter is without doubt one of the best saxophonists around and a leader of his generation. He is a respected bandleader with more than a dozen albums to his name, as well as the hundreds of credits where he has accompanied some of the biggest names in the business. He is also versatile – check out his contributions on the 2020 Steely Dan album, Two Against Nature.

As you would expect with such a formidable line-up, everyone brings their “A” game to the studio and makes a significant contribution. There are no journeymen here and this is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Potter’s saxophone playing is supremely confident and constantly steering the band to new heights. His role in the quartet is unquestionably as leader but without ever dominating the album.

There is certainly more than enough space left for Mehldau to add his magic and play some outstanding solo pieces. Potter and Mehldau seem at their best when playing off each other. Patitucci and Blade are never in the background and their contribution is just as important in making all eight tracks (all written by Potter) hugely enjoyable.

Most tracks cover the entire spectrum of pace, mood, and virtuosity in the same piece of music. A slow, dramatic intro will inevitably turn into a frenzied bop workout with outstanding solos before the music goes back to where it started. It’s difficult to single out individual tracks, but if pushed, Dream Of Home and Other Plans are my favourites. “Supergroup” may be an overworked expression, but it would be difficult to deny this is super playing.


Discography
Dream Of Home; Cloud Message; Indigo Ildiko; Eagle’s Point; Aria For Anna; Other Plans; Malaga Moon; Horizon Dance (57.00)
Potter (ts, ss, cl); Brad Mehldau (p); John Patitucci (b); Brian Blade (d). The Bunker Studio, Brooklyn, New York. No date given.
Edition Records EDN1227