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Bebop Spoken There

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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Chris Potter Quartet @ Pizza Express Stage, Cheltenham Jazz Festival - April 30.

Chris Potter (saxophones), David Virelles (piano), Joe Martin (bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums).
(Review by Steve T)
Finally got around to buying the Aziza album as preparation for this and was struck, given Chick Corea would be the preceding gig, how it reminded me of Return to Forever. I nearly saw Aziza (Potter, Dave Holland, Lionel Louke and Eric Harland) at London last year and was surprised to be told I saw Potter with Pat Metheny a few years back.
With the education system, private tuition, brilliant educators and more money to pay for them all, it's perfectly possible to produce musicians approximating the calibre of McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and even Trane. They can make great music but the shock factor of the propulsion into unchartered territory has gone. 
Lance has just reviewed the album from which much of this set was taken, and while ostensibly we seem to disagree, I totally agree this music looks forward as well as back as it seems to stand outside time. I once read that the world would never catch up with Beethoven or Trane, and while I don't think that's true of Ludvig Von, I suspect it is of Trane and I wish I could recall who said it as I often taunt Trane deniers with it.
That's not to say this is in any way a Trane tribute band as I hear countless influences in their music, but to recognise the pervasive influence of Trane on every Jazz musician since, and particularly saxophonists.
Some pieces were more melody driven than others but there was lots of freedom throughout, Potter taking the most solo time, though straightforward definitions were often mute. All are superb musicians and Potter quite extraordinary. Piano solos seemed shorter or were perhaps more easily pinpointed and the first drum solo earned him rapturous applause.
Potter made announcements every couple of pieces, advising us they would finish with the title track of the album - the Dreamer is the Dream - where he played the intro on soprano before switching back to tenor, followed by a blues. Martin took the obligatory bass solo but only really got to show his chops during a sprint to the finish, as piano dropped out. Bass followed leaving an incredible sax/drums workout before the goosebumps’
moment when piano and bass came back in but, great as he was, we didn't need another drum solo, but audiences seem to love them at a time when most rock bands are trying to lose them.
It should have been brilliant and it was, so why didn't it feel like it? It could have been me but others agreed. 
Steve T.

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