CHRIS POTTER — Imaginary Cities (review)

CHRIS POTTER — Imaginary Cities album cover Album · 2015 · 21st Century Modern Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Amilisom
This album was my personal introduction to Chris Potter's Underground Orchestra. Being the first one on the ECM label, this album also features a string quartet in addition to the lineup.

The use of the string quartet adds a nice color and variety to the album. On tracks such as "Dualities" and "Shadow Self" the string quartet is used in a way that even has classical implications - one might not be wrong in calling this third-stream at points. Fortunately the string quartet is neither overused or underused, but disappears and reappears throughout the album with perfect balance.

With an ensemble of this type, each track was written with creative form. Rather than follow the typical pattern of playing the head, going into a solo section, and going back to the head to close, most of the tracks on this album have complicated forms that feature instrumentals with the string quartet between solos. "Disintigration" even starts as an open, rubato free jazz track before everybody joins in on a unison melody. "Shadow Self" starts as a literal classical string quartet in the style of Dmitri Shostakovich before Potter comes in with a short bass clarinet solo.

My personal favorite of the album is Lament. Chris Potter plays one of the most memorable solos I have ever heard him play and it builds perfectly from start to finish.

One disappointment I had with this album was that it only features the piano player, Craig Taborn, on one track. His solo on "Sky" is pretty good, but I was hoping for more.
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