Chris Potter - The Dreamer Is The Dream

Label/Year: ECM, 2017

Lineup - Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; David Virelles: piano; Joe Martin: double bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums.


Saxophonist/composer Chris Potter is a force of nature. Extra sensitive, he displays an extraordinary facility in expressing his individuality, as well as interacting with his bandmates. 

Potter’s discography as a leader, which started in 1992, is replete of precious works. In recent times, his greatest showdown was Imaginary Cities (ECM, 2015), a record to cherish and listen unreservedly, but the new The Dreamer Is The Dream, also brings sumptuousness and no less absorbing sonorities.

Potter convenes a first-rate rhythm team that qualifies his writing purposes and musical vision - pianist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Marcus Gilmore.

The ballad “Heart in Hand” exposes yearning and romantic elegance, starting with a peer-to-peer correspondence between Potter and Virelles. In a subdued way, Martin and Gilmore reinforce the foundation, just to let it go again moments later when the pianist embarks on an unaccompanied solo imbued with imaginary essence. The quartet’s passion is intensified prior to a finale where a shimmering intensity prevails. 

Ilimba” evokes the African continent in the title and evokes it in the rhythm. The percussive chimes of the ilimba, a lamellophone from Tanzania (it’s Potter who plays it), initiate a journey that gains texture and color with Virelles’ left-hand strokes perpetrated in a lower register. Suffused with freedom and glow, this culturally rich tune may easily get into your soul through Potter’s conversational prowess, which flames with off-kilter patterns and thrives with phenomenal melodic perspicacity. The complex swirling phrases by Virelles precede Gilmore’s multi-timbre drum solo before the reinstatement of the main theme.

This creative, forward-driving stretch can be enjoyed again on the expressionist “Yasodhara”, where its sultry post-bop is inflated with Oriental influences. Simultaneously inquisitive, vindicating, and beseeching, this adventure worths every bit of flare and fancy, and everyone is encouraged to spin around.

In order to vary tones and timbres, the title track, restrained in pace but emotionally expansive, embraces a graceful lyricism that comes out of Potter’s bass clarinet. After Martin’s solo, the composer switches to tenor sax to emphasize the finale. On the following track, “Memory and Desire”, he switches again to soprano, delivering eloquent elliptical phrasings that grow in a coruscating crescendo.

Closing the album, Martin and Gilmore boil a steady funk-tinged groove on “Sonic Anomaly”, while Virelles’ splendid comping and rhythmic blaze enliven the stylish trajectories taken by Potter.

Eschewing any sort of boredom, redundancy, or triviality, The Dreamer is the Dream is all about compositional sophistication materialized in a high-end jazz that lives from communication, balance, and authenticity.

         Grade  A+

         Grade A+

Favorite Tracks:
02 – Ilimba ► 04 – Memory and Desire ► 05 – Yasodhara