3/20/17 – Chris Potter Underground Orchestra “Imaginary Cities” (2015)

Chris Potter has been making jazz albums since the 90s, and only until just recently have I been aware. If his other music is like this album, I think I would’ve been a fan of his for a very long time. He’s mainly a Saxophonist, and naturally that instrument is the focal point of the album. It is not strictly a “sax album” though, the instrumentation is varied and erratic enough never to dull your attention.

Lament kicks off the album with a melancholy mood, and Chris Potter lingers here just long enough before he moves on, very good timing. He doesn’t burst into full blown happy go lucky tunes but Imaginary Cities Part 2 is very energetic. Imaginary Cities Part 3 though is a very discordant sorrowful and psychotic dirge.. I’m not too fond of it. If anything though, it is not boring. Imaginary Cities Part 4 showcases Chris’s amazing talent on the sax, and he continually astounds me on this piece. The group slowly racket up to a frantic pace near the and and no one skips a beat.

Shadow Self is another creepy and atmospheric song, but it balances it out with a very moody piano, and I feel like it works here much better than on Part 3.  What drew me to the album in the start was the track Sky. It blends the melancholy with the energetic perfectly, the whole song is just a swirl of sound that each instrument branches off and loops back together seamlessly. It’s just a joy to listen to, I’ve replayed it so many times. The sound is both intimate and massive, it actively engages me but I’m also finding myself drift off, thinking about things I haven’t in a long time.

I noticed something about this album that I hadn’t experienced before. The second listen felt like my 5th, and my 3rd listen felt like my 20th. The melodies and solos just got so ingrained in my head that I felt like I’d been listening to this album for years. I normally don’t go seeking out jazz albums, but this one caught my ear and I glad I found it. I think even music fans that aren’t normally into Jazz can appreciate and enjoy this album. It never gets too abrasive, nor does it get too simplistic and boring.