Tenor sax ace Chris Potter’s surging climb to the pinnacle of that select area of jazz greats picks up steam with this hard-hitting live date featuring his bass-less quartet. No doubt, it’s one of the best bands in the biz. Moreover, this hybrid modern jazz/jazz-fusion set nicely contrasts his concurrent release for the Sunnyside record label titled "Ten," which is a large ensemble, third-stream project. But here, Potter and his quartet revel within punchy backbeats and punishing breakouts amid moody themes and soaring dynamics.
Keyboardist Craig Taborn solely uses the Fender Rhodes to complement Potter and guitarist Adam Rogers. However, Taborn compensates for the lack of a bassist via his lower register voicings. Given the lineup, it should come as no surprise that this program is chock full of simmering up-tempo grooves, largely engineered upon memorable themes. In effect, it’s an exciting listen, as the quartet’s forward-moving sense of the dynamic often provides the knockout blow.
They temper the flow some, on the bluesy piece titled "Pop Tune #1, where drummer Nate Smith eventually ups the ante with a deterministic 4/4 pulse, in support of Potter’s blustery jazz-blues choruses. And in other spots, they delve into torrid jam-based maneuvers, catapulted by Potter and Rogers’ blistering theme-building exercises. Yet one of my favorite works is the sublime and wondrously harmonious composition "Zea." Folks, it’s all about music-magic and an album that should find its way among a horde of top-10 picks for 2007.