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Frank Potenza Quartet: The Legacy

Frank Potenza grew up in Rhode Island, attended the Berklee College of Music and began teaching at the University of Southern California in 1995. A year later he occupied the guitar chair (vacated by the fine Los Angeles-based guitarist Ron Eschete) in a group headlined by grooving pianist Gene Harris, who died in 2000. The Legacy (Azica), Potenza’s most recent release, features a simmering set of straightahead numbers propelled by a tight rhythm section featuring pianist Larry Fuller, drummer Paul Kreibich and bassist Luther Hughes, a Harris vet. Throughout, Potenza dips deep into his bluesy, Harris-honed reservoir, evidenced by the laid back but soulful fretwork on Hank Mobley’s “Funk in the Deep Freeze,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Time After Time” and his own “A Blues for Frank E,” written for his late father. But this pony is capable of more than just one trick, something Potenza demonstrates with his graceful lines on bright numbers like “My Foolish Heart” and Dexter Gordon’s “Fried Bananas,” swinging but melodic work on “Wave” and reflective, lyrical approach to the ballad “I Wish I Knew.” Potenza’s playing is virtuosic on occasion, but it doesn’t pretend to be innovative or groundbreaking, opting instead to serve the music, which perhaps is the most worthy goal of all.

Originally Published