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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Sirens
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
I first encountered Chris Potter in the summer of 2001 at a makeshift gig-space in Calgary (it was Jazz Fest). He was touring Gratitude with Kevin Hays, Scott Colley, and Clarence Penn. While it was probably just another stop on the road for Potter (he certainly wasn't at the Vanguard), he and his band mates played an absolutely smoking (and very long) set. I was hooked, and immediately went out and picked up a copy of Gratitude (still one of my favourites of his). I have seen him twice since then, although I will confess that as the years passed I became something of a casual listener. I wanted to like Travelling Mercies, but the compositions simply weren't strong enough. I like Underground, but I have to be in the mood for it. (His work with Dave Holland strikes me as brilliant, but I haven't spent enough time with it to speak confidently about it.)

With The Sirens, however, I believe Potter has found a perfect (literary) vessel for his restless creativity. The band is especially well-balanced (and I challenge anyone to come up with a more suitable drummer for this music; Eric Harland plays with the strength and unpredictability of Poseidon, tempered with the wisdom of Pallas Athena). It seems characteristic that Potter should have wanted two pianists for the occasion; however, he deploys them with extreme care. Nobody gets in anybody's way. Potter moves between tenor and soprano saxophones, and includes a little bass clarinet along the way. The emphasis is on the tenor, however (or at least that's how I hear it), which suggests dedication and focus.

I will single out two tracks. "Kalypso" is what you would expect it to be--a calypso (and if you ask me, Potter was born to play calypsos), only it sounds a little off-kilter (like Kalypso by way of Circe, perhaps). Conversely, "Nausikaa" is ethereal, almost childlike--but of course we remember that Nausikaa is a beautiful young princess. (The Celeste is perfect for this performance. I close my eyes and I can imagine Odysseus waking up to the sounds of Nausikaa and her maids playing ball. "What am I hearing?" Odysseus asks, and of course because he is Odysseus he feels compelled to investigate....)

Chris Potter has re-established his power and (endless) promise with this recording. He has come home to Ithaca, and it was well worth the wait.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2013
His first ECM under his own name. Yikes, it's about freaking time. Homer is an inexhaustible source of artistic inspiration, and Potter's take is suitably joyous and anguished by turns. The harmonium (capably tickled by Mr. Virelles) was an inspired choice for setting the mood. Yoiks, what a bunch of great young players: Craig Taborn, Eric Harland, Larry Grenadier (does he ever sleep? He plays on more than 50% of the records I buy).

Dancing over architecture; just git it. 1600 stars.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2013
I first heard Chris and played alongside him while he was still in high school in Columbia. I realized from the start that Chris was something extra special and this new album finally pulls together everything that has been hinted at since his early jam sessions at "Pug's," a small bar in Columbia's Five Points district.

The music of "The Sirens" is moody, melodic, and memorable, avoiding any of the cliches that mar the work of many of Chris' contemporaries. His superb technique and his absolutely amazing mastery of the tenor saxophone's altissimo register is always used in tasteful service to his superb compositions and arrangements.

I believe that this album is a masterwork fully on a par with Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and the best of Miles' mid-1960s quintet.

When the history of modern jazz saxophone is finally written it will undoubtedly be Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Chris Potter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2013
Chris Potter has so brought us a deliciously-played, truly haunting melody that my imagination saw myself strapped to the deck of the boat hearing the siren original song. iTunes, required me to buy the entire album to get that one 8:38 Sirens song, but it was well worth it for me, since Sirens not only stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the album, but head-and-shoulders above most other instrumental music I have heard. I rarely buy music for others, but hearing Sirens convinced me to buy the CD from Amazon to send to my brother who loves listening to Jazz.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is the first solo work for ECM. Is a masterwork, is intensive , no easy to listen and very complex. The musician are great, all play in his biggest level. and Potter give a lesson of any kind of saxes . Never Potter play so well, his chops are incredible, and the composition are difficult to hear but unforgettable. The production is perfect. The only thing is that is very difficult to follow with only one audition. You must give time to time, and then you will understand how great is this Homeric music.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2013
I don't know how he keeps getting better and better, but "The Sirens" represents another giant step and a whole new peak for Chris Potter. I agree with the other reviewer who said that this album is on a par with "A Love Supreme"--the only difference being that I will probably listen to this one even more than to Coltrane's masterpiece. The key to its greatness may be the inspiration that Potter draws from the Odyssey, which brings a level of coherence and unity to this album that takes it beyond even his great Live at the Vanguard recordings. And his writing has reached a whole new level of lyricism and assurance that just blows me away. Chris Potter, arguably the greatest jazz musician of our times, has truly come into his own.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2013
I have followed Chris Potter since he first joined Dave Holland's great quintet, and was naturally blown away by his inventive and incendiary playing ... this guy has always had chops to spare! With that being said, in his own recordings as a leader, the playing has never quite lived up to expectations from seeing and hearing the brilliance of his live performances. In the past, you could hear Potter at his finest when featured on other ECM releases, e.g. Paul Motian's "Lost in a Dream", and some from the Holland quintet. With "Sirens", we finally have the real deal, and the band he has assembled is given more than ample opportunity to shine. Potter's maturity as a leader is displayed in the beauty and balance achieved on every solo throughout, and in the space he gives to his sidemen. The audacity of combining Craig Taborn and David Virelles on keyboards for a few of these numbers is another reason "Sirens" reveals strength upon strength with repeated listens. Gorgeous.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2013
Chris Potter rarely, if ever, disappoints. After seeing him live with the Underground band I didn't know what to think about him going back to an acoustic setting - hasn't he already done that before? My apprehension was unwarranted. This album is top-notch and on par with some of the best jazz albums ever made. Buy this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2014
This album is an incredible artistic creation. I love to just put it on, close my eyes, and think back to the stories of the Odyssey I read in grade school. Potter has certainly captured an alternate view of the classic I had not fathomed before. GREAT album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2013
Heard one track on the radio, and knew I had to get the CD- Chris Potter is one of those artists where you know without even hearing it, that the CD is going to be good. This is exquisite, happening, contemporary jazz, some of the best of what's going on now.
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