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REVIEW | Chris Potter "Eagles Point" by Jeff Cebulski


Chris Potter

Eagle’s Point

Edition Records, 2024

By Jeff Cebulski | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2


Four jazz superstars gather for a recording session. What could go wrong?Sometimes such arrangements fizzle out. Fortunately, in the case of Chris Potter, Brad Mehldau, John Patitucci, and Brian Blade’s Eagle’s Point, nothing goes wrong. Enhanced by the excellent production of John Davis, the musical and personal felicity among the players is evident from the start and dominates the proceedings.


In late 2022, Chicago-native Potter, the renowned saxophonist, led his three longtime musical friends through a recording of eight post bop compositions for Edison Records, because he could. The compatriots never found a way to perform together, so this was the next best opportunity. Given that all of them had releases planned for 2023 (I am surmising), Edition waited until now to unleash the results.


What I hear is what one would expect: Potter as fluid as ever, Mehldau meld-ing with the leader effortlessly, Patitucci rising to the occasion, and Blade providing his dependably creative percussive support.


“Dream of Home” moves from a dreamy melody to a more invigorated pace, with Potter adroitly canvassing the territory of his tenor sax. Immediately I am struck by the balanced mix provided by Davis; every quartet member has his place within the sound texture, especially Patitucci, whose resonant bass opens three songs, including “Cloud Message,” a swinging affair where the bassist walks alongside Potter with equal aplomb.


A few tunes seem to be products of exotic experience. Potter wields his bass clarinet on the pleasant “Indigo Ildiko,” where Patitucci gets his first solo moment. Mehldau joins in with a delightfully prancing addition, while one is continually impressed with Blade’s tasteful support. The final two pieces, “Malaga Moon” and “Horizon Dance” carry on the exotic touches. “Moon” is a tango with Patitucci’s low-noted, dramatic foundation moving the storytellers Potter and Mehldau forward. “Horizon” brightens up the mood, toward the Caribbean, led by Potter and Blade’s dancing duet. Later, Blade gets his chance at a relatively short but, as usual, in-context solo that accentuates his humble approach.


That approach, which makes Blade an exemplary team player, is represented by his synchronicity with Patitucci on “Other Plans,” where the rhythm section adorns Mehldau’s opening statement on this waltz where Potter’s lyricism stands out. Once again, almost like a reward, the bassist has another solo that sings melodically.


The most ambitious composition, the title cut, leads with an insistent Patitucci beat toward a fluid hard bop expression from Potter that never wavers much from its melodic conception yet gives Blade some inducement to pound the skins in response—there’s an open door to a drum solo that doesn’t occur. This tune cooks at a higher temperature and bodes well for a live performance.

Indeed—Will the release of Eagle’s Point eventually lead to a tour (or at least to Newport)? One can only hope. These guys are always in demand, and so fingers-crossed is the condition we are left with at this terrific album’s conclusion.


Chris Potter, Eagle’s Point Edition Records, 2024.


Personnel

Chris Potter, tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet

Brad Mehldau, piano

John Patitucci, bass

Brian Blade, drums


About Jeff Cebulski

Jeff Cebulski, who lives in Chicago, is a retired English educator (both secondary and collegiate) and longtime jazz aficionado. His career in jazz includes radio programs at two stations in southeast Wisconsin, an online show on Kennesaw State’s (GA) Owl Radio from 2007 until 2015, and review/feature writing for Chicago Jazz Magazine since 2016, including his column "Jazz With Mr. C". He has interviewed many jazz artists, including Joshua Redman, Charles Lloyd, Dave Holland, John Beasley, and Chris Brubeck, as well as several Chicago-based players. Jeff is a member of the Jazz Journalists Association. Contact Jeff at jeff@chicagojazz.com

1 Comment


Guest
Mar 12

There will be a European tour in July 2024 - yet Blade will not be participating. Johnathan Blake will be a member of the quartet.

July 09 2024 : Domaine d’O - Montpellier, France

July 11 2024 : Gent Jazz Festival - Gent, Belgium

July 12 2024 : North Sea Jazz Festival - Rotterdam, Netherlands

July 13 2024 : Juan-les-Pins - Antibes, France

July 15 2024 : Umbria Jazz Festival - Perugia, Italy

July 16 2024 : Casa Del Jazz - Rome, Italy

July 17 2024 : Kulm Hotel - St Moritz, Switzerland

July 19 2024 : Dromos Festival - Tharros Oristano, Italy

July 20 2024 : Jazz In Marciac - Marciac, France

July 25 2024 : Donostia Jazzaldia -…


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