Chris Potter Quartet On JazzSet We're about to embark on a musical odyssey by sea. Our captain is saxophonist Chris Potter, who's launching his Odyssey-inspired album The Sirens.

JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Chris Potter Quartet On JazzSetWBGO

Chris Potter Quartet On JazzSet

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/186273822/186234163" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Frans Schellekens/Redferns/Getty Images

Don Pullen On Piano Jazz

The brilliant pianist played church music and R&B before joining Charles Mingus' band and forming his own quartet. He joins Marian McPartland for a song in this 1989 episode.

Don Pullen On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/570834686/570846392" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Claudio Roditi, photographed in 1990. David Redfern/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption David Redfern/Getty Images

Claudio Roditi On Piano Jazz

The versatile trumpeter made his way from Brazil to the New York jazz scene in the 1970s. Hear him perform with host Marian McPartland in this 1996 episode.

Claudio Roditi On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/567716375/567717240" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Ellyn Rucker at Ivory's Piano Bar in Denver on Apr. 22, 1984. Duane Howell/Denver Post via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Duane Howell/Denver Post via Getty Images

Ellyn Rucker On Piano Jazz

On this 1993 episode, the versatile vocalist and pianist joins host Marian McPartland to play the title song from her album This Heart Of Mine.

Ellyn Rucker On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/564710563/564713341" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Grover Washington Jr. performs on stage during the "One Night With Blue Note" concert in New York on Feb. 22, 1985. Anthony Barboza/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

In this radio episode, Jazz Night in America takes you to a tribute concert honoring the late musician, whose soulful sound was more than just "smooth."

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/564442111/564555947" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Gurtman and Murtha Artist Management

Ruth Laredo On Piano Jazz

Hear "America's First Lady of the Piano" explore the boundaries between classical music and jazz with host Marian McPartland in this 2004 episode.

Ruth Laredo On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/562620476/562624249" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jimmy Greene. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Jimmy Greene Remembers A 'Beautiful Life'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The saxophonist's 2014 album was dedicated to the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, killed in the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Hear his quartet perform the genre-spanning music in concert.

Jimmy Greene's 'Beautiful Life'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/418925379/418929187" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Teri Thornton, photographed on Jan. 1, 1990. Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images

Teri Thornton On Piano Jazz

Revisit this 1999 episode of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, featuring the late vocalist and pianist a year before she lost her battle with cancer.

Teri Thornton On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/561711244/561802316" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Frank Stewart

Louis Hayes Celebrates His 80th Birthday In A Packed Jazz Club

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jazz Night in America takes you to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, where the hard-bop drummer celebrated his debut as a band leader and talked about fond memories and favorite sessions.

Louis Hayes Celebrates His 80th Birthday In A Packed Jazz Club

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/561069637/561555776" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Nate Smith Band performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 14, 2017. (Christina Ascani/NPR) Christina Ascani/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Christina Ascani/NPR

Review

Tiny Desk

Nate Smith + KINFOLK

The drums take center stage at this Tiny Desk. Watch veteran jazz percussionist Nate Smith dazzle the NPR audience in a transfixing performance.

Back To Top