Chris Potter (jazz saxophonist)
Chris Potter was born in Chicago, Illinois, but his family soon moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he spent his formative years. Potter showed an early interest in a wide variety of different music and easily learned several instruments including the guitar and piano. He quickly realized after hearing Paul Desmond that the saxophone would be the vehicle that would best allow him to express himself musically.
He played his first professional jazz gig on alto sax at age thirteen after mastering the complex musical language of Charlie Parker. He developed a devoted local following while performing with noted Columbia jazz musicians Johnny Helms and Terry Rosen as well as with others in the jazz community who nurtured what was recognized as a prodigious musical talent.
After leaving Columbia upon his graduation from Dreher High School, Chris attended college in New York City, first at the New School, and later at the Manhattan School of Music. Upon his arrival in New York he began performing with bebop legend Red Rodney and quickly gained a reputation as a rising new star of the saxophone.
Potter has released over 15 albums as a leader and performed as a sideman on more than 150 CDs with many leading musicians including Red Rodney, Pat Metheny, Marian McPartland, Patricia Barber, Kenny Werner, the Mingus Big Band, Paul Motian, Ray Brown, Jim Hall, James Moody, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, Wayne Krantz, Mike Mainieri, Steve Swallow, Steely Dan, Dave Holland, Joanne Brackeen, Adam Rogers and many more.
His 1998 CD Vertigo was named one of the year's top ten jazz CDs by both Jazziz magazine and The New York Times. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for his work on the Joanne Brackeen recording Pink Elephant Magic. His 2004 CD Lift: Live At The Village Vanguard was named one of the year's ten best new jazz recordings by Fred Kaplan of Slate. His 2006 release, Underground, on which he records with an electric, more "groove"-based ensemble featuring Craig Taborn on keyboard; Wayne Krantz or Adam Rogers on guitar; and Nate Smith on drums, was followed closely by the 2007 release Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard, featuring Adam Rogers on all six of its tracks. Another Underground group recording was released in 2009, Ultrahang.
Potter has appeared many times in the highly respected Down Beat Critic's and Reader's Polls and received the top prize as Rising Star for Best Tenor Saxophonist in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. He was recently honored as Tenor Saxophonist of the Year 2013 by the Jazz Journalists Association.
In the December, 2014 issue of Down Beat magazine, which featured the results of the annual readers poll, Potter was named the number one tenor saxophonist in the world.
Furthermore, Potter is widely respected among musicians and critics alike.
"Chris was in my composition class at the New School [for Jazz and Contemporary Music, NYC] for about a year. When he called me for a private lesson, I had no idea how he played. We started with a bebop tune; but he went further out on the second thing we played, and on the third tune he was playing in the language of my contemporaries, guys who grew up following all of Miles' bands and aspiring to the kind of spiritual strivings that defined Coltrane's music. By the fourth tune, I wanted to take a lesson from Chris."—Kenny Wheeler, Canadian composer, trumpet- and flugelhorn player
"He has a real special maturity all his own. He plays with a lot of trust and he really explores his dynamics within the music. He has beautiful rhythm and flowing ideas. [...] He's real versatile and he has a strong presence in his tone and articulation and he can fit in a lot of settings because he's very free rhythmically on his horn. That's why you hear him with everyone from Steely Dan to Pat Metheny. He is definitely a disciple of Michael Brecker in a certain way, and he's gone in a direction that has led to those gigs."—Joe Lovano, Jazz saxophonist, on Potter's album The Sirens
"Potter is growing into one of the major saxophonists of today. [He is an] astonishingly confident and full-bodied player and shows prowess on any of his chosen horns, each of which he plays in a muscular post-bop manner that are full of surprising twists…" —Richard Cook, Brian Morton, Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.
- Presenting Chris Potter (1994, Criss Cross Jazz) with John Swana, Kevin Hays, Christian McBride, & Lewis Nash
- Concentric Circles (1994, Concord)
- Sundiata (1995, Criss Cross) with Kevin Hays, Doug Weiss, & Al Foster
- Pure (1995, Concord)
- Moving In (1996, Concord) with Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier, & Billy Hart
- Unspoken (1997, Concord) with John Scofield, Dave Holland, & Jack DeJohnette
- Vertigo (1998, Concord) with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Scott Colley, & Billy Drummond
- Gratitude (2001, Verve) with Kevin Hays, Scott Colley, & Brian Blade
- Traveling Mercies (2002, Verve) with John Scofield, Adam Rogers, Kevin Hays, Scott Colley, & Bill Stewart
- Lift: Live at the Village Vanguard (2004, Sunnyside) with Kevin Hays, Scott Colley & Bill Stewart
- Underground (2006, Sunnyside) with Adam Rogers, Craig Taborn, Wayne Krantz, & Nate Smith
- Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard (2007, Sunnyside) with Adam Rogers, Craig Taborn, & Nate Smith
- Chris Potter 10: Song for Anyone" (2007)
- Ultrahang (2009, ArtistShare) with Adam Rogers, Craig Taborn, & Nate Smith
- This Will Be (2001, Storyville)
- Transatlantic (2011, Red Dot Music) with The DR Big Band
- The Sirens (2013, ECM)
- Imaginary Cities (2015, ECM)
With Dave Holland
- 2000 - Prime Directive - ECM
- 2001 - Not for Nothin' - ECM
- 2002 - What Goes Around - ECM
- 2003 - Extended Play: Live at Birdland - ECM
- 2005 - Overtime - Dare2
- 2006 - Critical Mass - Dare2
- 2007 - Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival - Monterey Jazz Festival Records
- 2010 - Pathways - Dare2
- 2011 - Archive Series Volume I - Dare2
With Paul Motian
- 1994 - Reincarnation of a Love Bird - JMT
- 1996 - Flight of the Blue Jay - Winter & Winter
- 1997 - Trio 2000 + One - Winter & Winter
- 1998 - Play Monk and Powell - Winter & Winter
- 2005 - On Broadway Vol. 4 or The Paradox of Continuity - Winter & Winter
- 2006 - Live at the Village Vanguard - Winter & Winter
- 2006 - Live at the Village Vanguard Vol. II - Winter & Winter
- 2006 - Live at the Village Vanguard Vol. III - Winter & Winter
- 2010 - Lost in a Dream with Jason Moran - ECM
With Red Rodney
- 1992 - "Then And Now" - Chesky
With Urbie Green
- 1997 - "Sea Jam Blues" - Chiaroscuro
With Pat Metheny
With Mike Stern
- 2012 - All Over The Place - Heads Up International
With Burak Bedikyan
- 2013 - " Circle of Life " SteepleChase/Lookout
With Steve Swallow
- 1997 - Deconstructed' - ECM/XtraWATT w/ Adam Nussbaum, Ryan Kisor, Mick Goodrick
- 2003 - Damaged In Transit - ECM/XtraWATT w/ Adam Nussbaum
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chris Potter.|
- Official website
- Biography from the Sunnyside Records website
- Chris Potter Leader Discography
- Chris Potter Sideman Discography
- "Twelve Essential Chris Potter Performances" by Jacob Teichroew, (Jazz.com).
- The Official Chris Potter Transcription Book, Chris Potter Plays Acapella Solo Standards
- 2010 Interview