I make no secret of my belief in Chris Potter’s preeminence, not only among his generation of jazzmen but also in the long legendry of the music’s saxophonists. Potter echoes Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, and Wayne Shorter but he imitates none of them. On all his instruments, from soprano sax to bass clarinet, Potter speaks with an improvisational logic that belies his years, but he still does his primary work on tenor, producing a focused, throaty timbre that further narrows on the highest notes, giving them an extra urgency. For the last four years he has recorded and toured as a member of Dave Holland’s award-winning quintet, and he’s played a major role in making it the best working band in jazz; at every Holland show I’ve attended, Potter’s epic, detailed solos have elicited audience exultations more in keeping with a tent revival. The only drawback to his work with Holland has been that it usually keeps him too busy to play out with his own groups. Here he’ll appear with the terrific band from his new Traveling Mercies (Verve), released last week: keyboardist Kevin Hays, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Bill Stewart, a flawless engine of interlocking rhythms. The album ranks among his best: his first efforts at leading something more than a blowing date were awkward, especially when he sought to integrate electronics into the primarily acoustic music. But everything fits here, from the overdubbed reed choruses to synth samples. Tuesday, October 1, through Thursday, October 3, 8 and 10 PM, Friday and Saturday, October 4 and 5, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, October 6, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Micheal Jackson.