Chris Potter: The Dreamer Is The Dream (ECM 2519)

The Dreamer Is The Dream

Chris Potter
The Dreamer Is The Dream

Chris Potter tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, clarinet, flute, ilimba, samples
David Virelles piano, celeste
Joe Martin double bass
Marcus Gilmore drums, percussion
Recorded June 2016 at Avatar Studios, New York
Engineer: James A. Farber
Assistant: Luke Klingensmith
Mixed December 2016 by James A. Farber, Manfred Eicher, and Chris Potter
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: April 21, 2017

Chris Potter’s third leader date for ECM reshuffles the reedman and composer’s deck into yet another brilliant stack. This ace of spades is joined by brothers of hearts (pianist David Virelles), clubs (bassist Joe Martin), and diamonds (drummer Marcus Gilmore) for a set of six road-tested originals that only seem to grow with repeat listening.

While Potter is known for his forthright tenor playing, “Heart In Hand” facilitates a soft landing into hard-won territory. In a relationship with piano that’s almost blood-related, Potter’s primary instrument fits itself into the valleys between the keys while bass and cymbals populate the land with flora and fauna of lush detail. As in the set’s closer, “Yasodhara,” the bandleader’s tone is the voice of a fertile crescent alive with constant invention. Not a breath feels wasted, nor does a single note from Virelles, whose sonic archaeology is equal parts fire and earth.

“Ilimba,” named for the Tanzanian thumb piano heard therein, locks Potter and Martin in step, while Virelles and Gilmore paint crosswise: the water to their wind. Amid Gilmore’s superlative patterning, Potter plants himself in enlightened soil. “Memory And Desire” is another surprise for its artful samples and folk-like soprano. Mind-melding with Virelles, it treats air as a surface to write across. The title track is the willow tree resulting from this natural assemblage. Featuring Potter on bass clarinet in a fronded system of branches, and an extended bass solo from Martin, who dismantles and rebuilds his ladder to the top until its structural integrity is infallible, it regards us from above as the sun dances on its own reflection. Squinting our eyes into its glare is all we can do to open our hearts and minds to its message. Not only is the dreamer the dream; the dream is also the dreamer.

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