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Chris Potter on the Monterey Quartet

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Thursday June 25, 2009

Listening is key to all-star Monterey Quartet’s success

Alexander Varty

It’s a slight exaggeration to say that the Monterey Quartet is a pickup band. As saxophonist Chris Potter explains by phone from his New York City home, the all-star foursome did have a couple of rehearsals before making its debut at the fabled Monterey Jazz Festival in 2007.

But for Potter—as well as for bassist Dave Holland, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and drummer Eric Harland—a big part of this unit’s appeal is that its members don’t get the chance to play together on a regular basis.

“There’s a certain kind of high energy that happens when you’re in exactly that kind of situation,” he says. “And it’s also a thing I think we’ve all experienced in the studio, when you go in to record an album: very, very often the first take is the best take. Even if you don’t feel good about it at the time, when you listen to it afterwards you realize that it has a certain freshness to it that the later takes, even if they’re technically perfect, don’t have.”

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