Review by Jeff Nania
Photographs by Rudy Lu
A Place For Jazz finished the 2015 season with saxophonist Chris Potter’s new trio featuring drummer Adam Cruz and bassist Drew Gress, as they gave the performance which launched the rest of their U.S. tour.
They may have had some reliable devices with which they arranged tunes – the Potter out front-solo-solo-repeated riff by Potter and Gress-formula popped up a few times, but these were incredibly effective in creating a semblance of meat and structure for what could otherwise be a harmonically deficient format.
Potter was also keen to switch up his instrumentation. He played mostly tenor but picked up a bass clarinet for the ethereal “Dream Three.” He played an unaccompanied intro then an ostinato melody section which existed somewhere outside of time while Cruz made his way around the kit with mallets on the drum set and Gress plucked out a deep brooding slow bass part. Potter finished stating the melody and handed it off to Gress for a bass solo while Cruz grabbed for a small shaker to ease the space back down to nothing as Gress then also had a chance to play unaccompanied before Cruz again picked up his brushes and laid them just on the snare drum for a bit with quiet bursts from the cymbals.
“Dream Three” may have been the most different tune of the evening, but that’s not to say that everything was all so straight-ahead. Sure, the trio played the beautiful Mal Waldron ballad “Soul Eyes,” and then later showed their appreciation to the crowd with an encore performance of Charlie Parker’s “Relaxin’ at Camarillo,” but there was plenty of hard driving stuff throughout the night, including the hard hitting opening which was an obscured but recognizable tune by the Police, and the Potter original “Dr. Bentley,” which was “for all you ‘Naked Lunch’ fans out there,” Potter said referencing William S. Burroughs’ famous novel.