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Chris Potter: There Is a Tide (Edition)

A review of the saxophonist's album recorded during lockdown

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Chris Potter: There is a Tide
The cover of There is a Tide by Chris Potter

I dove into this without checking the liner notes first, which left me gaping at the supple interplay between, and I quote, “piano, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, drums, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute, percussion, samples, and saxophones.” Imagine my shock at finding out every last lick of the above comes from Chris Potter himself—a man known for sax better than anything else, but who has clearly been woodshedding beyond even Coltrane levels (he cut this in six weeks) during the new isolation.

And isolation marks his methodology, which explains his means. We’re seeing and hearing a lot about folks reaching out to each other over the computer, a lot of thank-God-or-whoever-up-there for the means to connectivity both electronic and personal. Potter politely refuses this and uses lockdown to go inside himself. On the momentum of a small miracle, though, this never sounds brooding, navel-gazing, or even ingrown. He’s sprouted multitudes. “Rising Over You,” for example, struts some funk backbeats while the keyboard wanders through a wavy pattern, the guitars double up for a contemplative motif, and the warm but delicate soprano sax waves the way forward. “Mother of Waters” puts liquid vibes over a melodic bassline, leaving flute to flutter forth a variation on that bassline; later on it’s not-quite-swing with a fragile sax part, threatening to sputter out, gaining strength from the other horns, gaining health, before the Caribbean vibe chimes back in.

I want the insanity over, and I’m sure you do too. We wish the new isolation into history, into a page we can turn. But I wonder what Chris Potter could do—theoretically, of course—with another several months of this. I wonder what he could grow.

Learn more about There Is a Tide on Amazon!

Chris Potter: Life After Being Overrated