Release date: August 28th 2007
Availability: CD, iTunes, MP3 download
The Village Vanguard has been the venue for the recording of some legendary albums –
John Coltrane and Bill Evans amongst them - so it was always going to be a good idea for Chris Potter to take his funk/jazz vehicle there and seek to capture that unique combination of recording studio sound quality and audience rapport that the small club offers.
The band – Chris Potter (tenor saxophone and bass clarinet), Adam Rogers (guitar), Craig Taborn (Fender Rhodes) and Nate Smith (drums) – is essentially the same as on the Underground studio album of a year earlier. There are five Chris Potter compositions ("Train", "Arjuna", "Pop Tune No 1", "Viva Las Vilnius" and "Zea") and a version of Ed Blackwell's "Togo".
The music varies from strong and challenging ("Train", "Arjuna", "Viva Las Vilnius") to melodic and involving ("Pop Tune No 1", "Zea") with many opportunities for Chris Potter's playing to shine, especially in his use of base clarinet on "Zea".
Adam Rogers plays some the lowest and dirtiest blues heard in a long time on "Train" and throughout seems a long way from the more complex and esoteric approach taken in his own albums as leader, delivering a suitably pop-styled solo on "Pop Tune No 1".
Craig Taborn's Fender Rhodes not only carries the role normally taken by bass but also contributes long shimmering solos, as on "Arjuna", while Nate Smith continues the original "Underground" strategy of allying all this funk jazz with strong rock orientated beats.
In a mislabeling attack, many of the tracks are almost twice the length suggested by the album back cover – good news for those who want to hear as much as they can of this fine jazz.
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