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Chris Potter Underground Orchestra
Imaginary Cities

ECM Records

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Imaginary Cities is the recording premiere of saxophonist Chris Potter’s new Underground Orchestra. At the core of this larger ensemble is the personnel of his long-established Underground quartet – with Adam Rogers, Craig Taborn and Nate Smith – now joined by two bassists, a string quartet, and Potter’s old comrade from Dave Holland Quintet days, vibes and marimba man Steve Nelson. The title composition is a suite, panoramic in its reach, with movements subtitled “Compassion”, “Dualities”, “Disintegration” and “Rebuilding”. The scope of the work, and its contrasting moods and thematic development, inspire some of Potter’s finest playing. His saxes fly high above his idealized cityscapes or launch into dialogues or group improvising with its gifted inhabitants. Four further pieces – “Lament”, “Firefly”, “Sky” and “Shadow Self” – extend the feeling of the suite, successfully combining both tightly written material and very open areas involving all members of the orchestra. References are multi-idiomatic and multicultural, and Potter, who counts Charlie Parker with Strings amongst his formative enthusiasms, had Arabic and Indian string sections in mind, as well as contemporary composition, when shaping this material. Imaginary Cities was recorded in December 2013 in New York’s Avatar Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher. Release of the album is followed by US performances with the Underground Orchestra in New York and San Francisco.

Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Adam Rogers: guitars, Craig Taborn: piano; Steve Nelson: vibraphone, marimba; Fima Ephron: bass guitar; Scott Colley: double bass; Nate Smith: drums; Mark Feldman: violin; Joyce Hammann: violin; Lois Martin: viola; Dave Eggar: cello - Press Release

“Potter applies pigment to a formidable cityscape indeed, beyond which the bandleader’s sidemen and -women unroll ocean until an entire globe’s worth of water is given a chance to reflect it. Strokes of brilliance to listen for are Rogers’s constellatory riffs (especially in the far-reaching Part 4) and the string quartet writing of Part 2 (in which Nelson’s marimba also makes a multifaceted splash within a pizzicato frame). Through it all, Potter’s saxophones carve lines in the water like the fins of benevolent sharks. He unpacks his solos with the intuition of an experienced traveler and, especially by the sopranism of Part 3, emotes in an honest, straightforward tone.” – ECM Reviews

Item description:


Chris Potter Underground Orchestra ‎


Imaginary Cities


ECM Records


2 × Vinyl, LP, Album, Gatefold



Release Date:

23 Apr 2015




Contemporary Jazz

Catalog No:

ECM 2387