Chris Potter

Traveling Mercies

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AllMusic Review by

Chris Potter gets more and more adventurous. On this follow-up to the strong Gratitude, the tenor and soprano saxophonist beefs up strong writing and heady group interplay with occasional sampled sounds and miscellaneous textures like clavinet and reed organ. True to form, he plays additional wind instruments -- alto flute and bass clarinet in this case -- and isn't afraid of overdubbing them to create lush orchestration, on tracks like "Snake Oil" and "Any Moment Now." On the haunting "Invisible Man" he even doubles the alto flute melody with his singing voice. Not until the fifth track, a Meters-like adaptation of the spiritual "Children Go," do you hear a 4/4 tempo; loping lines over odd meters prevail, with pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Bill Stewart expertly laying down the edgy grooves. (Like on Gratitude, Hays doubles on Fender Rhodes.) John Scofield contributes tart solos on three tracks, while Adam Rogers adds nylon-string and slide colors on two others. The sweeping, Metheny-esque harmonies of "Highway One" bring the program to a head, followed by a closing bass clarinet/piano duo on Willie Nelson's "Just as I Am." As a jazz record, Traveling Mercies is very much a product of its post-millennial times, but it still comes across as highly individual. Its value will be lasting.

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