Chris Potter's Underground

Ultrahang

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Chris Potter's Underground have stayed the course over five years, proving to be a very compelling electric-oriented funky jazz band with a big twist. Since the recording South that Potter did with fellow saxophonist David Binney, the jagged, angular, zig-zag-type melodies that Potter has composed stand him head and shoulders above all of his peers in modern music. Retaining electric keyboardist Craig Taborn and electric guitarist Adam Rogers, Potter works with them because they are able to keep pace with his lightning-quick lines and interval-leaping concepts without even a glimpse of a misstep. Drummer Nate Smith plays unorthodox grooves in odd meters to add further complexity that never sounds disjointed or haphazard. Potter's incredible vision of what jazz can be starts with the spare beat and sax in bizarro world via the pronounced guitar of Rogers stewed in a New Orleans-type shuffle on the title track; adds shout-out choruses in a 5/4 rock beat with many unison sax/guitar lines during "Time's Arrow"; and works out a chunky, funky dissolution in mixed odd meters for "Small Wonder." The bluesy, slanted, complex, and extended-cycle melodies melting into sky-soaring concepts most closely reflect the Binney effect on "Facing East." A loose jam stomp-down identifies "Boots"; a harder beat in Headhunters/Funkadelic terrain with no bass -- though it seems Taborn assimilates that role -- cements the band as "Rumples" gets down; and Potter moves to bass clarinet for the thinly veiled cover of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe." On this recording, Rogers is far more steel-cased, rip-roaring, and on fire than his previous efforts, playing many tandem lines with the leader. Taborn languishes in the background, yet cleverly plays a role that expands the rhythmic content of the group. Potter has been at the forefront of progressive and contemporary jazz since the founding of this ensemble, one that all younger listeners should champion, and deserves high marks in the annals of new jazz as presenting one of the more innovative approaches in the decade of the 2000s. Ultrahang comes highly recommended.

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