Chris Potter, Song For Anyone

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Chris Potter the protean saxophonist achieved full flower on Lift, the live disc from 2004. In similar fashion, Song for Anyone is Potter's coming-out party as a first-rate composer, featuring ten songs that collectively are far more intricate and enveloping than any group of originals on his past discs. Nodding more toward Aaron Copland and Charles Ives than Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus, the 36-year-old Potter utilizes trios of strings (violin, cello, viola), woodwinds (bassoon, clarinet, flute) and rhythm section (piano, bass, drums) for lyrical counterpoint, innovative harmonies and textures and an episodic blend of jazz and classical chamber music.

Celebrated saxophonist’s coming-out party.

By jazz standards, the solos are few, but there is a wealth of highlighted interaction. For example, “Chief Seattle” features a simmer-to-boil exchange between Potter's tenor and bassist Scott Colley, followed by some pizzicato prancing from the strings and then a fiery confab between violinist Mark Feldman and drummer Adam Cruz. There are graceful tableaux such as the beautiful, folkloric “Family Tree” (featuring bassoonist Mark Rabinowitz) and the stately coda, “All in All,” and thorny, dissonant moments like the middle sections (afternoon rush hours?) of “The Arc of the Day,” which nods to the swirling avant garde in both jazz and classic musics. But mostly there are vibrant, passages that suddenly flit or gradually seep into different movements, timbres and textures, making Song for Anyone a document that will keep yielding new surprises, contexts and enriched rewards with repeated listening.