By Suzanne Lorge | Published April 2021
It’s hard to think of Chris Potter as only a saxophone phenom after There Is A Tide, his 2020 solo album recorded at home and launched during lockdown. A one-man jazz orchestra, he played 14 instruments on the release, his third for the U.K.-based Edition imprint. His move to the label in 2019 makes room for such creative forays, which continue apace with this year’s Sunrise Reprise.
This latest album captures the second studio date for Potter’s trio with pianist James Francies and drummer Eric Harland. As with Circuits, their 2019 debut, Sunrise Reprise buzzes with modernistic vitality and oscillating electronics—at a slight remove from Potter’s earlier acoustic work. Still, the focal point of the album’s compositions remains Potter’s perfectly sculpted lines, in this case, stacked in unison or two-part harmony. But Francies and Harland, in providing the ballast for such vertical expansion, render Potter’s alacritous exploration all the more exciting. One can hear the trio’s discerning equilibrium on “Southbound,” in Francies’ responsive comping and electrifying solos, or on “Serpentine,” in Harland’s flawless punctuation of the horn’s brisk melodic statements.
Intriguingly, the last track, “Nowhere, Now Here/Sunrise Reprise,” and the first, “Sunrise And Joshua Trees,” share a buried hook—a few simple, arresting intervals. Potter’s musical notions in and around this melodic reference impress: The closing tune alone lasts 24 minutes. Potter fills that time with meditative passages, scratchy grooves, ethereal effects and feverish soloing—capping a release that presages, one hopes, brighter days and happier outlooks.
Sunrise Reprise: Sunrise And Joshua Trees; Southbound; Serpentine; The Peanut; Nowhere, Now Here/Sunrise Reprise. (54:42)
Personnel: Chris Potter, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, flute, keyboard; James Francies, keyboard; Eric Harland, drums.