Release date: 22 February 2019
Credits and About
Chris Potter tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinets, flutes, sampler, guitars, keyboards, and percussion
James Francies Keyboards
Eric Harland Drums
Linley Marthe Bass Guitar (tracks 3,4,5,and 8)
Recorded by Josh Giunta at GSI Studios in September 2017
Mixed by Chris Allen at Sear Sound in February 2018
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound in October 2018
Artwork by Split Design
Photography by Dave Stapleton
One of the most influential and inventive improvisors of his generation, Chris Potter returns with his major new album ‘Circuits’ featuring keyboardist James Francies (Blue Note), drummer Eric Harland with Linley Marthe on bass. For more than two decades, Potter’s limitless creativity, effortless virtuosity and vibrant sense of swing have wowed critics, musicians and fans who cite him as one of the most influential saxophonists and inventive improvisors of modern day.
Following three acclaimed albums on ECM, ‘Circuits’ sees Chris Potter, with a new home at Edition Records, return to groove, echoing his music from the Underground era. As Chris explains: “This is an idea that I’ve had for some time. I was kinda itching to get back into grooveland, and I was talking to Eric Harland about it. We’ve been working together for many years, and he recommended calling James Francies, who I was not familiar with, and it just immediately worked. This album feels like a turning point in musical direction for me, so it feels very fortunate to have some fresh faces involved to help support it. To me, the album has a feeling of being unconstrained by convention, so I’m happy to have some folks on the business side who feel that way too. Edition has a lot of good ideas about how to connect this recording with a potential audience that might really like it if we can just make it onto their radar, and that’s very exciting to me”.
The music is effortless, free from convention tho’ rooted in tradition, with modern sensibilities and influences. Chris continues, “It seems like the kind of thing where we could have written music, or not; it could be super-arranged, it could be not arranged. Everything just kind of works and that’s something you can’t really plan out. The chemistry’s got to be right. You can imagine everything in your head, you can write… but it’s when you begin playing, that’s when you really see where it’s at. If you think about where the music came from, starting with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, you know, everyone just used what they had around them. They wanted to play music that people would like, something that would bring in an audience, using the sounds and influences around them. So, that’s exactly what this is too. It’s just that the influences around us include hip hop and electronica and all kinds of stuff that wasn’t happening at the beginning of the history of the music. But for me, the important thing about the history of the music was the inclusiveness and the ability to change. That’s what keeps it alive.’
Opening with the evocative Invocation, multi-reeds lead with chorale-like harmonies prompting feelings of anticipation and intrigue – something bold and big is coming, and it does! Hold It, emerges with an immediate tenor groove, leaving the listener in no doubt where this album intends to sit. This is Chris Potter at his best. You can hear the joy and energy in the music and for his fellow musicians. His tone is modern, commanding and undeniably Potter. Through twists and turns, Hold It builds with intense improvisation, held together with the exuberant and inventive drumming of Harland and the dexterous keyboards of James Francies. The Nerve doesn’t let up. Within the weave of electronics, samples and flutes, the track opens up for Francies (who more than confirms his presence and growing reputation), culminating in intense improvisation and virtuosity. As the album develops, more nuanced and subtle tracks including the West African Koutomé and ballad Queens of Brooklyn insinuate themselves around the more immediate and uplifting grooves.
Circuits is the product of a master musician, combining world-class virtuosity and musicianship in equal measure, coupled with a humility and joy of music-making to match. A vibrant soundworld of electronics, memorable hooky melodies and surprising turns of phrase, ‘Circuits’ is sure to delight both the dedicated Potter fans and new listeners alike.
“To say that Potter is hitting his stride would be an understatement. A move to Edition Records after three consecutive releases on ECM is a new direction musically and professionally. If Circuits is any indicator of the future, it looks quite bright for Potter’s fan base, filled with creativity and groundbreaking records with an eye towards the future of jazz exploration.” – The Times
"a stunningly exciting Fusion 2.0 music.”
"The combination of these cats along with the amazing talent of Chris Potter on saxophone makes for a great sound.”