• Chris Potter says The Odyssey "is all about big themes set in bold relief."
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    Chris Potter says The Odyssey "is all about big themes set in bold relief."
    John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com
  • Eric Harland summons "The Sirens."
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    Eric Harland summons "The Sirens."
    John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com
  • Pianist Ethan Iverson looks on as The Odyssey unfolds.
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    Pianist Ethan Iverson looks on as The Odyssey unfolds.
    John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

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JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Chris Potter Quartet On JazzSetWBGO

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Now in his early 40s, Chris Potter is "the most commandingly skilled saxophonist of his generation," according to New York Times jazz writer Nate Chinen.

Potter and JazzSet host Dee Dee Bridgewater have just come off three months with the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, traveling the country by bus. On the bandstand, Bridgewater liked to say to Potter, "I want someone to draw a picture of you and your horn, with cascades of notes pouring out." She loved working with him. Potter plays what he imagines, and he thinks on his feet. He's tuneful, soulful and forward-moving.

Chris Potter's The Sirens is inspired by the ancient Greek tale of exile, The Odyssey by Homer. He'd read The Odyssey in high school in South Carolina. More than two decades later, he read it again, connecting with it even more because Homer's epic "is all about big themes set in bold relief — romantic adventure and a return to home, temptation and identity, life and death. Things we all deal with today."

Potter played many times at the Village Vanguard in bands led by drummer Paul Motian (1931-2011). Mid-journey in The Sirens, Potter inserts Motian's piece, "The Owl of Cranston." At the end, "The Owl" flutters like powerful night bird, landing.

In The Odyssey, hero Odysseus is held captive on an island by the nymph Calypso. Potter's "Kalypso" (think Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas") leads to a wonderful jam by drummer Eric Harland and — through Ethan Iverson's piano — connects to "The Sirens," the final movement, featuring Larry Grenadier on bowed bass. The saxophonist brings The Sirens to a close with a final, strong melody — a beautiful reading.

Set List
  • "Wine Dark Sea"
  • "Wayfinder"
  • "The Owl From Cranston" (Paul Motian)
  • "Kalypso"
  • "The Sirens"
Personnel
  • Chris Potter, tenor and soprano saxes, flute, bass clarinet
  • Ethan Iverson, piano
  • Larry Grenadier, bass
  • Eric Harland, drums
Credits

Original webcast produced and hosted by Josh Jackson. Technical direction and live audio mix by David Tallacksen, video direction by Michael Downes. Web producer Patrick Jarenwattananon. Surround Sound remix by Duke Markos. Studio engineer Ginger Bruner at KUNV in Las Vegas.

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