Chris Potter Trio at PizzaExpress Jazz Club – News, Reviews, Articles and Commentary from the London Jazz Scene and Beyond
Chris Potter, Craig Taborn and Nasheet are waiting
(PizzaExpress Jazz Club, October 22, 2021. Second of two nights. First and second houses. Live review from Charles Rees)
Playing without a bass is a familiar aspect of Chris Potterthe music of, heard on several albums with his Underground Quartet and, more recently, his Circuits Trio. But, while studio recording offers the option of multi-tracks, playing with this scale in a live setting comes with many obstacles to overcome. Craig taborn, however, enjoys several years with Potter as a keyboardist in the Underground Quartet.
Taborn played primarily on the piano, with only a few occasional interludes on keyboards and other electronic devices at his disposal; yet somehow he generated the presence of a great bassist spirit throughout the concert. As both sets progressed it was fascinating to watch his increasing freedom. If at the start of the first set he might have seemed constrained by the responsibilities of anchoring the harmony, by the end of the second set he was clearly and visibly savoring every moment.
In the absence of bass, a drummer less than Nasheet waits could have risked becoming the third wheel of a sax and piano duo. But Waits’ relentless energy gave a constant dynamism and life to every note and rhythm of his band mates. It seamlessly oscillated between regular beat and the feeling of freedom during the solos, which absolutely grabbed the audience and put big smiles on Potter and Taborn’s faces. Its composition Between Nothingness & Infinity was played and completed the set well.
Potter’s own superhuman technique was fully on display through every sentence he played. However, a very sensitive element crosses his sentences, a kind of unpretentious charisma. There were some magical moments when he got the audience’s full attention, comparable to that of Joe Henderson The state of the tenor, almost pouring his soul into the ears of every listener. Potter is widely regarded as one of the best saxophonists in the world, and it’s not hard to see why.
He also displayed wonderful skill as a flautist on his composition. Mermaids, the title track from his 2013 ECM album. Although the piece was originally recorded on the bass clarinet, Potter opted to use the more portable bass flute for touring purposes and demonstrated such a range of tones. impressive that sometimes he could make it sound like an ordinary flute.
Other arias performed include the composition of Chris Potter Ziggurat, who opened the show; and Force field, another Potter graphic and the closest. Both are new and currently unregistered. The trio also played the role of Ed Blackwell Go which the drummer originally recorded with, among others, Dewey Redman – who appears to have been one of the influences on Potter’s playing. It was a good idea to include one of Blackwell’s compositions. They are rarely performed by groups of this caliber.
The numbers the trio performed were individually well chosen, but also performed remarkably and consistently as a set. The musicians also seemed to have the gift of capturing good moods for the two Friday night audiences. This tour was an adventure for the players – I spoke to Chris Potter later and he told me they “didn’t know what to expect” – but it was also an adventure for the audience, creating an always exciting experience for all parties.
Unfortunately, this tour is now over. But this is a band not to be missed, and PizzaExpress Live has done well to give them a voice in London at a time when many European tours appear to be missing a stop in the UK.
LINKS: Chris Potter website
Pizza Express live