- Audio CD (28 Jan. 2013)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: ECM
- ASIN: B00A8ZZ570
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,754 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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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)
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.
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