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The Sirens

Chris Potter Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 13.57 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product Description

Product Description

The Sirens is acclaimed saxophonist Chris Potter's ECM debut as a leader, an album of mood and melody inspired by Homer's The Odyssey - both its epic atmosphere and its timeless humanity. Potter, who has featured on many ECM albums by Dave Holland and Steve Swallow, as well as making a profound contribution to the contemporary classic Lost in a Dream with Paul Motian and Jason Moran, has composed a cycle of irresistible songs without words.

These pieces are conveyed by a subtly virtuosic, strikingly textured band: with Potter on tenor and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet, plus Craig Taborn (piano), David Virelles (prepared piano, celeste, harmonium), Larry Grenadier (double-bass) and Eric Harland (drums). Potter declaims lyrical lines over the dynamically inventive rhythm section, as the colouristic keyboards shimmer like stars in the night sky.

Music like that of The Sirens, with its open forms and an emphasis on lyricism, presents challenges. Potter says: "You have to know when to dive in, but also when to leave space. The musicians need to have strong personalities but also a certain maturity - and that's why this band is just what I needed. These guys are state of the art."

Since bursting onto the New York scene in 1989 as an 18-year-old prodigy with bebop icon Red Rodney, Potter has become a potent improviser and composer-arranger. The youngest musician ever to win Denmark's Jazzpar Prize, his impressive discography includes 15 albums as a leader and 100 sideman appearances. He has played or recorded with such leading names as Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Jim Hall, Ray Brown, John Scofield and Dave Douglas, as well as with the Mingus Big Band.

Personnel: Chris Potter (soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet on The Sirens), Craig Taborn (piano), David Virelles (prepared piano, celeste, harmonium), Larry Grenadier (double bass), Eric Harland (drums)

BBC Review

The Sirens is saxophonist Chris Potter’s first ECM release as a leader, a significant milestone which marks the culmination of his inexorable rise over two decades.

Although he has recorded for a respectable selection of labels since his 1994 debut album, ECM is one of a select few (including Blue Note) which says something special about a musician.

While this is Potter’s ECM debut as a leader, he has recorded for the label before with Dave Holland and Paul Motian, just two of the many bands in his impressive CV.

To mark the occasion, Potter has come up with an atypical album for him. Rather than a selection of originals plus standards, Potter composed a cycle of songs without words.

Written in just two weeks, it was inspired by re-reading Homer’s The Odyssey, and he had its epic, mythic mood in mind. Those unfamiliar with ancient Greek literature need not be daunted, as knowledge of the book is not necessary to appreciate the moods and melodies of The Sirens.

In an acoustic quintet, Potter is joined by three esteemed former bandmates – pianist Craig Taborn from Potter’s electric band Underground, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Eric Harland – plus relative newcomer David Virelles on prepared piano, celeste and harmonium.

Although uncommon, the use of two pianists is very successful, with the two serving different purposes: Taborn on grand piano acts as a conventional accompanist-soloist, while Virelles adds coloration and atmosphere.

Their most notable combination here is the beguiling improvised duet The Shades, which provides a beautiful and relaxed close to the album.

The quintet creates music that consistently emphasises atmosphere over pyrotechnics. At its heart is Potter’s own playing, as full-toned and assured as ever. He alternates between tenor and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet, on any piece opting for whichever tone is most atmospheric.

So, on the album’s extended title track, he chooses bass clarinet, although its tone is at odds with the song of the Sirens, but the end result is just as irresistible. The union of ECM with Potter promises to be a happy and fruitful one.

--John Eyles

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Review

(5 stars) Potter's tunes unfold like a adventure and reveal a musician drawing up to his full height, playing with freedom and authority, aided by companions who are worthy of the task. -- The Irish Times, (Cormac Larkin), February 15, 2013

(4 stars) The Sirens is arguably Potter's boldest, most persuasive recording as a leader to date...Potter is on sizzling form throughout. -- Jazzwise, (Selwyn Harris), February 2013

(4 stars) Something remarkable has happened to US tenorist Chris Potter...a lyrical suite of eight originals inspired by the ancient Odyssey of Homer. -- Evening Standard, (Jack Massarik), February 1, 2013

(4 stars) The pacesetting saxophonist's highly recommended ECM debut is a beautifully crafted acoustic set inspired by Homer's The Odyssey. -- Financial Times, (Mike Hobart), February 8, 2013

Potter has come up with a collection of tunes that certainly call the listener back, not just for their strong, quickly memorable, melodic qualities but for the improvisations and group interaction they inspire in supporting musicians...a thoroughly involving listen. -- The Sunday Herald, (Rob Adams), March 3, 2013

For his first ECM CD as leader, Chris Potter has produced one of the finest recordings of his career. Superb, fully empathetic support...and a framework of compositions inspired by The Odyssey bring out some of the most inspired and imaginative playing you could wish. --Northern Echo, (Peter Bevan), February 14, 2013

Product Description

ECM 2258; ECM RECORDS - Germania; Pop Jazz
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