John Hart-Chris Potter Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

John Hart-Chris Potter Quartet 

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One plus one equals three. You can spend your time lauding the talents of both guitarist John Hart and saxophonist Chris Potter, but it's the partnership between the two that has my ears tingling in anticipation of this weekend's sets. Start with the two instrumentalists' carefully honed sounds, which blend without either losing its individual edge; then continue to the way in which one picks up the shifting tides of the other's musical drift--as in Potter's solo on the song "Ozone" (from Hart's newly released Ozone on the newly exciting Concord label), with the guitarist egging him on in his accompaniment. The Hart-Potter enterprise has a bit of history: they first appeared together in Chicago in '92, and Potter's last two Concord albums placed Hart in his quartet's front line. Hart is 34, Potter just 25, but they act like pals of 40 years' standing. Individually, Hart names among his inspirations such hall of famers as Duke Ellington, saxists Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, and guitarist Jim Hall (whose globular timbre has left its mark on Hart's own). He has enough musical maturity to leave his considerable technique in the back room when the music doesn't call for it--addition by subtraction--and even his fastest lines have a clean, lapidary touch. Potter takes an opposite, but quite complementary, approach to the same matter. He has crafted a busier and more adventurous style in which he produces compelling improvisations that place the greatest demands on his technique--addition by addition--in a manner indebted to the glory days of Sonny Rollins. I find Potter's style ultimately more rewarding; indeed, I consider him the most exhilarating of all the twentysomething saxmen on the scene. But don't let my preference obscure the tremendous synergy between these two musicians on disc and especially onstage. Friday, 9 PM, and Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Phoebe Ferguson.

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