May 23, 2024

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CD review: Chris Potter – Sunrise Reprise 2021: Video, CD cover

It’s barely six months since Chris Potter single-handedly created the best jazz album of 2020. Back then, social distancing dictated that he play all the saxes, guitars, keyboards and drums. Triumph though that was, he has wasted no time in getting back in the studio with his trio colleagues James Francies and Eric Harland. Sunrise Reprise is another exercise in uplift — late Coltrane spirituality enlivened with infectious grooves.

A prodigious figure in the contemporary jazz world for many decades, saxophonist/composer Chris Potter constantly makes waves at every release. Sunrise Reprise, the second installment of his acclaimed Circuits Trio – featuring the formidable keyboardist James Francies and the dynamic drummer Eric Harland – consists of a five-track program that, navigating an interesting tonal spectrum, generates a technically perfect circuitry of ultra-modern sounds combined in its electric and acoustic forms.

Recorded in the midst of an imposed New York City lockdown, the album kicks off with “Sunrise and Joshua Trees”, a soaring contemplation delicately crafted with Francies’ adept textures. The tune’s glowing atmosphere has a dreamlike quality occasionally stirred by laser-like synth beams and progressively engulfed by deep bass notes that stimulate Potter’s advanced vocabulary.

The saxophonist’s echo-laced melodies hit us with soulfulness on “Southbound”, where Harland makes an incredible impact as soon as he gets down to business. Francies doesn’t stop to excel, unleashing here a momentous improvisation on top a levitating atmosphere that he created himself.

Serpentine” is made of recoiling trajectories and sliding friction, emerging as a hip fusion piece built on the grounds of funk. Moreover, it exhibits a hip-hop-ish vibe in the language as well as fiery post-bop chromatics injected by Potter’s effect-laden horn.

Denoting an even-tempered posture, “The Peanut” plays like a ballad, carrying harmonic brilliance and melodic lucidity.

The trio concludes with the 24-plus-minute “Nowhere, Now Here / Sunrise Reprise”, a triangulated open drift which muddles through many complex layers, labyrinthine corridors, and spatially dynamic vamping sections. Following an unadorned introduction with flute and percussion, the group plasticizes through groove-centered avenues guided by busier bass offerings. At that point, a blend of funk energy and precise post-bop dynamics push the soloists to their most eloquent drive and cutting-edge musicality.

Luxuriating in individual freedom and tight collective interplay, Sunrise Reprise may not reach the heights of the Circuit Trio’s eponymous debut, but guarantees plenty of groove and atmospherics to keep you permanently connected.


Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet, sampler;

James Francies: piano, keyboards;

Eric Harland: drums.

Chris Potter | Sunrise Reprise - Edition Records

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