Chris Potter ‘The Dreamer Is The Dream’ (ECM) 4/5

A genuine surprise of an album and one that in tone at least harks back to the classic tenor saxophone quartets of the later 1950s and 1960s, though here Potter operates on soprano saxophone and bass clarinet as well as the little known Ilimba and samples. Saxophonist Chris Potter is possibly better known as a sideman of some standing and indeed he has toured with the likes of Jim Hall, Steve Swallow, and in a more commercial vein, as part of Steely Dan. Here, the all original compositions work a treat and are joyful and reflective in equal measure.

An atmospheric intro greets the listener on, ‘Memory and desire’, with creative percussion from Marcus Gilmore recreating the sound of nature and forest-like creatures. This reviewer was especially enamoured of the sparse sounding soprano and minimalist piano surrounding, which then is transformed into a gorgeous poem of love and reflection. An outstanding performance from the quartet.Inventive rim-drum percussive work from Gilmore and tenor saxophone are noticeable components on the introduction to, ‘Yasodhara’, which is really a vehicle for the leader to take centre stage. There is a sweetness to the intensity of the performances that is pleasing on the ear and here the rhythm section is in full flow.

If one had to cite key influences, then Wayne Shorter from his mid-1960s Blue Note period might be one, as would Sonny Rollins and possibly Benny Carter, or Coleman Hawkins. Operating on bass clarinet, there is real depth to the old school balladry of the title track in which the refined piano of Virelles and the fine double bass of Joe Martin hints at a Shorter composition such as, ‘Dolores’. A very strong album indeed that may just end up on many a ‘Best of the year’ list. ECM continues to surprise and delight.

Tim Stenhouse