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Chris Potter: Sax Inspiration In a Greek Epic

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Tuesday February 05, 2013

from The New York Times

Sax Inspiration In a Greek Epic
By Nate Chinen

Since recording his first album just over 20 years ago, Chris Potter has earned his stature as the most commandingly skilled saxophonist of his generation, an improviser of deft insight and athletic poise. His high profile as a sideman — in the studio with Steely Dan, and in bands led by the drummer Paul Motian, the bassist Dave Holland and, most recently, the guitarist Pat Metheny — has sometimes overshadowed his output as a bandleader.

His flagship over much of the last decade has been Underground, a band defined by its rough embrace of rock and funk. Mr. Potter preserves that band’s attunement to texture but adheres to an acoustic palette on “The Sirens” (ECM), his finest effort yet. The album features Craig Taborn, of Underground, on piano; David Virelles on celeste, harmonium and prepared piano; Larry Grenadier on bass; and Eric Harland on drums. (Mr. Potter will be at the Village Vanguard through Sunday with similar personnel, though Ethan Iverson is the pianist, trying to fill two sets of shoes.)

“The Sirens” draws inspiration from “The Odyssey,” the ancient Greek epic poem of exile, homecoming and the treacherous path in between. Last month, on the eve of his own epic journey — a 40-city North American itinerary with the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour — Mr. Potter discussed “The Sirens” and its connection to Homer’s ancient work at Kefi, a Greek restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The first item ordered was naturally Mythos Hellenic Lager Beer. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

To read the full interview click here