As Chris Potter approaches the 200-album mark, it becomes ever more apparent that the saxophonist’s most profound work occurred in his decade with Paul Motian – but that’s like saying a fine actor’s greatest role was Hamlet. What I like is the range of “roles” Potter is prepared to assume, and Circuits is a whole new theatre of sound to kick off his relationship with the Edition label. Recorded with sparkling presence, it has Potter returning to more groove-based material, amid bold textural decisions, compositional complexities and wide-open improvising.
The textural boldness includes Potter multi-tracking his array of reeds on occasion, and keyboards player James Francies supplying anything from electronic hazes to lyrical piano to synth bass – electric bassist Linley Marthe only appearing on four of the nine pieces. A key to the music’s success is drummer Eric Harland, who, like Billy Kilson, can blend precision, dialogue, groove and drama into a startling series of underpinnings and foreground jolts. Potter’s multi-tracking creates its own dramas of harmony and timbre, although the music is at its most gripping when that golden-toned tenor is flying across Harland’s jet propulsion.