Chris Potter has been one of my favorite tenor saxophone players for about the last 10 years. I remember being on a gig somewhere and a friend of mine said “Have you heard Chris Potter?” When I said “No”, he just shook his head and said “Dude, you’ve got to check this guy out!” I immediately went out the next day and bought the CD “Unspoken”. I totally loved it! Since then I have bought most of Chris Potter’s CD’s and some that he is a sideman on.
A few years ago some bootleg recordings started traveling around the internet of various acapella solos that Chris would perform at clinics he was giving. I remember the first one I heard was “All the Things You Are”. I was totally amazed at what Chris Potter could do with a standard like that. I believe he played for about 14 minutes. The amazing thing about his performance was that it was 14 minutes of pure creativity and technical virtuosity like I had never heard before. Most players repeat stock licks or run out of ideas after a few minutes of playing. Every time I thought he was done amazing me with some new creative idea, he would come up with another one that would also blow my mind. This feeling of awe continued for the full 14 minutes. Afterward, I just turned off itunes and sat in silence staring at the computer.
Since that time, there have been many of these bootleg acapella recordings floating around the internet. I have collected most of the ones I could find. There have even been a few people who have done some transcriptions of some of them. A couple of months ago, I heard about a new PDF book by Eli Bennett called “Chris Potter plays Acapella Standards” that was soon to be released . In it he had supposedly transcribed 11 of these amazing Potter acapella solos. Now, you have to understand that transcribing just one solo is a an amazing task. I can’t even imagine how much time and energy it would take to transcribe even one. Eli Bennett has transcribed 11! This blew my mind!
The first day the book was released I bought it. I had to have it. The tunes that are transcribed in the book are:
All the Things You Are
I Love You
Have You Met Miss Jones (2 Versions)
It Could Happen To You
I Hear A Rhapsody
To take a quote form the book
“The intention of this book is to provide an extremely accurate representation of Potter’s acapella work over familiar tunes and chord changes that are directly applicable to developing musicians. A wealth of knowledge can be learned from studying a master’s approach to playing over a standard – knowledge and concepts that can be directly applied in the practice room from the basics of harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic concepts to triadic generalization and superimposition, intervallic concepts, forward motion, and various colors and applications of melodic content while spontaneously creating an inspiring work. The possibilities are endless. Potter’s approach not only demonstrates this through his expressive voice but provides a vast encyclopedia of musical knowledge derived from past masters as evident in each transcription where he often quotes Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins or John Coltrane, while adding the “Potter spin”.”
This is an amazing book and resource. The wealth of knowledge and insight that can be gained from these solos is unimaginable. I am very excited to have this book on my shelf. It will give me years and years of material to delve into. I started last week with “I Hear a Rhapsody” and plan on working through the book one solo at a time. Being able to just play these along with the recordings is a phenomenal feat and more than worth 19.99. Understanding the why behind the notes and rhythms and transferring that knowledge to your playing and improvisation…………..Priceless!
Thanks to Chris Potter first and foremost for his amazing playing and creativity. Thanks to Eli Bennett for the countless hours he must have put into this project. This is a resource that every serious jazz musician should check out! To get the book yourself, you can visit Eli’s site at www.elibennett.com . I give this book 5 stars. Now I have to go practice……………