Some of the greatest saxophonists in jazz are the inspiration behind a new album by Chris Potter titled "Gratitude." Potter, who plays alto, tenor and soprano sax, grew up listening to Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Lester Young. But he also credits Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman and Wayne Shorter for his interest in jazz. Potter's debt of gratitude is paid to these and other masters of the saxophone and reflected in his new CD.
Chris Potter says he once heard Sonny Rollins describe jazz pioneer Lester Young as "a visitor from another planet." Potter, a native of Chicago, named this tune "The Visitor" in honor of Lester Young and the impact he made on future generations of tenor saxophonists.
Chris Potter's first instrument was actually the piano. But it was Paul Desmond's saxophone solo from Dave Brubeck's jazz hit "Take Five" that inspired him to play alto sax. After graduating from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, Potter tested his skills at the 1991 Thelonious Monk Institute Saxophone Competition. He made it to the finals but lost out to jazz sensation Joshua Redman. Within two years, Potter had his first recording contract.
Chris Potter became fascinated with the music of Charlie Parker at age 11. He says he spent months listening to nothing but Charlie Parker records, copying every note. One of his favorite Parker tunes is "Star Eyes," featured with drummer Brian Blade and bassist Scott Colley.
Potter was also influenced by sax legend John Coltrane whose mix of jazz and blues compelled him to write and perform "The Source."
Potter is gearing up for a 13-city European concert tour that kicks off in Italy. He'll be on tour in the U.S., Canada and South America through the end of the year, including a return trip to Europe in July.