Underground Orchestra - Imaginary Cities
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"Imaginary Cities", an album of great power and expressive range, is the recording premiere of saxophonist Chris Potter’s new Underground Orchestra. At the core of this larger ensemble is the personnel of his long-established Underground quartet –with Adam Rogers, Craig Tabornand Nate Smith –now joined by two bassists, a string quartet, and Potter’s old comrade from Dave Holland Quintet days, vibes and marimba virtuoso Steve Nelson.
The title composition is a suite, panoramic in its reach, with movements subtitled “Compassion”, “Dualities”, “Disintegration” and “Rebuilding”. The scope of the work, and its contrasting moods and thematic continuity, inspire some of very Potter’s finest playing, including some extraordinary solos. His saxes fly high above his imaginary cityscapes or launch into dialogues or group improvising with its gifted inhabitants. Four further pieces –“Lament”, “Firefly”, “Shadow Self” and “Sky” –extend the feeling of the suite, successfully combining both tightly written material and very open areas involving all members of the orchestra.
References are multi-idiomatic and multicultural, and Potter, who counts Charlie Parker with Strings amongst his formative enthusiasms, had Arabic and Indian string sections in mind, as well as contemporary composition, when shaping this material. The track “Shadow Self”, meanwhile, reflects the influence of Béla Bartók.
CHRIS POTTER, tenor and soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
ADAM ROGERS, guitars
CRAIG TABORN, piano
STEVE NELSON, vibraphone and marimba
FIMA EPHRON, bass guitar
SCOTT COLLEY, acoustic bass
NATE SMITH, drums
MARK FELDMAN, violin
JOYCE HAMMANN, violin
LOIS MARTIN, viola
DAVID EGGAR, cello
Avatar Studio, New York, December 9-11, 2013.
02. Imaginary Cities 1: Compassion
03. Imaginary Cities 2: Dualities
04. Imaginary Cities 3: Disintegration
05. Imaginary Cities 4: Rebuilding
07. Shadow Self