Although American saxophonist Chris Potter has a fairly longstanding history with ECM Records as a sideman for Dave Holland, 2013's The Sirens marks his first appearance as a bandleader on this prestigious jazz label - and, while leading a band is nothing new for Potter (he's been doing so for roughly twenty years), the music heard on this ECM debut solidifies his place as one of the most talented players and composers in modern jazz. A mind blowing observation that is as warm and relatable as it is larger than life and epic in scope, The Sirens is nothing short of a masterpiece.
When listening to The Sirens, it is Chris Potter's dynamic approach to both tenor and soprano saxophone playing that immediately grabs my attention - in addition to having a tremendous musical vocabulary and fluid playing style, his solos convey a level of lyricism that is only heard from the 'best of the best', so to speak. Of course, he's playing over plenty of tasty chord changes, subtle (yet memorable) riffs, and one of the best rhythm sections I've heard on a recent jazz recording, but all of this serves to accentuate the brilliance of Potter's playing and the phenomenal group chemistry heard on this recording.
From the album's most intense moments on "Wayfinder" to its most serene on "Nausikaa", a strong sense of group interplay is evident; although the compositions leave plenty of room to breathe, small percussive details or piano flourishes always make sure that the listener's attention doesn't wander. I especially have to mention drummer Eric Harland, as he hardly plays a groove on The Sirens that doesn't catch me immediately. His ear for interesting rhythmic patterns is apparent from start to finish here, and he has all of the technical chops to make those patterns translate beautifully into a recording.
The Sirens is, to my ears, one of the most expressive jazz albums in recent memory; music this dynamic, moody, and captivating isn't something that even the most active listeners get to experience very often. I'm very glad that I've had the chance to experience it, though, and I will highly recommend Chris Potter's ECM debut to any fan of post-bop. A masterpiece of the highest order!
1. Wine Dark Sea
4. The Sirens
8. Stranger At The Gate
9. The Shades