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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Jan 28, 2013

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 been a featured player on ECM albums by the likes of Dave Holland and Steve Swallow, found the timeless tale a source of inspiration as he sought to create for his latest band a year ago.

Since then the music has been honed on the road, and captures the sense of wonder and excitement that faces the explorer as he faces an adventure. Here the crew is composed of five top musicians, and their adventure is a musical, rather than nautical, exploration. Potter stretches out on a number of tracks, and the two-keyboard sound of the band gives him an intriguing base on which to express his musical thoughts.

I spoke to Chris as he prepared to tour with the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 55th Anniversary Celebration. That band – which will feature Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride, Benny Green, Lewis Nash, Potter, and Ambrose Akinmusire – will play more than forty dates between now and the end of April. Potter has plans to put the recording quintet together after that to continue promoting The Sirens. 

Click here to listen to our conversation, featuring musical selections including:

Chris Potter – “Wine Dark Sea” and “Nausikaa” from The Sirens. Chris has assembled an unusual two-acoustic keyboard approach to the latest album, which uses the narrative of The Odyssey as a jumping-off point for musical exploration. The band is Chris Potter (soprano and tenor saxophones) Craig Taborn (piano), David Virelles (prepared piano, celeste, harmonium), Larry Grenadier (double bass), and Eric Harland (drums)

Pat Metheny – “Roofdogs” from Unity Band. I caught this band in Detroit this Labor Day, and they seemed to be having a blast playing a mix of electric and straight-ahead jazz to a packed house. Metheny is on guitar, Potter on sax, Ben Williams on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums.

Steely Dan – “Janie Runaway” from Two Against Nature. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen finally struck Grammy pay dirt with this 2000 release. Potter had a terrific alto sax (“West of Hollywood”) and tenor sax solo on the record, which on this track featured a horn section that included “Blue Lou” Marini on alto sax, Michael Leonhart on trumpet, and Roger Rosenberg on bass clarinet. The core band is Becker on bass and guitar, Fagen on Wurlitzer, Leroy Clouden on drums, Ted Baker on Rhodes and backup vocals from Carolyn Leonhart.