This is not a typical Concord release, which is not to abuse the label's justly proud mainstream tradition. Rather, it signals an ever expanding agenda that now includes the rough-and-tumble forays of young, fire-in-the-belly players such as saxophonist Chris Potter. A Chicago native who now calls New York's Upper West Side home, Potter can perhaps best be seen as falling into the post-Trane school associated with such galvanizing tenorists as Joe Henderson, Joe Lovano, Bob Berg and Michael Brecker.
Here, in a simpatico setting featuring Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Billy Hart, Potter focuses on bracing originals. On the free-blowing "Nero's Fiddle," Potter paints with bold strokes and bright colors. For "Book of Kells," a switch to soprano illuminates the traditional Irish text with melodic arcs shutting between 3/4 and 4/4. Once into "The Forest," Potter's tenor slashes with a motivic approach recalling "The Bridge" of Sonny Rollins. The one standard, "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," is a poignant ballad for Potter's haunting soprano. Gripping.