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Chris Potter Underground Orchestra: Imaginary Cities

Here we have the first release from saxophonist Chris Potter's new large scale ensemble, which he is calling the Underground Orchestra, and their ECM debut titled Imaginary Cities. Featuring guitar, piano, vibes, marimba, electric & acoustic bass, drums, violin, viola, and cello, Imaginary Cities is an expansion of Potter's previous Underground Quartet, which featured Adam Rogers (guitar), Craig Taborn (piano), and Nate Smith (drums), all who are here in this new outfit along with a host of other players. Despite the huge line-up of musicians, the sound on Imaginary Cities is very atmospheric and quite gorgeous, rarely veering off into 'big band' bombast like so many of these types of expanded line-ups do, though this band can create some thunder when they want to.

The four part title suite is simply marvelous, with the opening part seeing Potter's lovely melody lines leading the charge over sumptuous soundscapes from the rest of the ensemble. The leader then transforms in a lethal, screaming monster on the second part, his squonking sax solos bursting through a mix of classy rhythms and dramatic strings, and also a wild vibraphone passage courtesy of Steve Nelson. The third part is more meditative and somewhat mysterious, with Potter's yearning lines alongside tender violin, viola, and cello providing for some heart wrenching moments. The finale is more upbeat, as traditional jazz styled melodies mix with soaring strings to great effect, and featured solos from Rogers & Smith.

Other highlights on Imaginary Cities include the beautiful "Lament", the quirky "Firefly" with its neat piano/sax interplay, the classical strains of "Shadow Self", and the majestic, 12-minute closer "Sky", which sees Taborn taking an extended solo, his alluring piano lines grandiose every step of the way before giving up the stage for some classy strings and a mind blowing solo from Potter to lead the ensemble to a majestic finale.

In the end, it's not hard to be completely 'wowed' by Imaginary Cities, a very enjoyable collection of orchestral, atmospheric jazz from Chris Potter and his new band. A job well done!

Track Listing
1) Lament
2) Imaginary Cities 1 Compassion
3) Imaginary Cities 2 Dualities
4) Imaginary Cities 3 Disintegration
5) Imaginary Cities 4 Rebuilding
6) Firefly
7) Shadow Self
8) Sky

Added: January 10th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist @ ECM Records
Hits: 2292
Language: english

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