I just downloaded “The Sirens” from iTunes and Chris Potter filled my mind with grand spans of time and travel spilling out of my speakers and into my apartment in an all-new adaptation of the famous Homer classic.
This is how the NYTimes describes the idea of the Potter album:
“The Sirens” draws inspiration from “The Odyssey,” the ancient Greek epic poem of exile, homecoming and the treacherous path in between. Last month, on the eve of his own epic journey — a 40-city North American itinerary with the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour — Mr. Potter discussed “The Sirens” and its connection to Homer’s ancient work at Kefi, a Greek restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The first item ordered was naturally Mythos Hellenic Lager Beer. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
I appreciate and honor Potter’s effort — but I must warn you that even the largest fans of “The Odyssey” may not be able to make clear identification of meaning between the epic text poem and Potter’s performance, and that’s okay! You need not know anything about Jazz or saxophones or Homer to enjoy the album. The experience is intended to wash over you many times to create several layers of pondering and perception. There is always time for realization later.
There’s a difference between inspiration and actualization and Potter is more interested in thoughts and themes, whereas a similar effort by Bryan Ferry to adapt modern melody into ancient meaning is much easier to quantify: New Songs Re-Cast as Old Jazz Classics.
I tend to give the aesthetic edge or Ferry over Potter merely because you can more immediately evaluate the success of the effort for Ferry in that his melodies either work in a quantifiable context or not. Potter’s choices are more esoteric and fumfering because there is no qualitatively correct intention to divine — it works if it works for you.
I recommend Chris Potter’s “The Sirens” because it is a wonder work of mind into matter — and if it takes you a few years to associate the melodies with the meandering epic poem — then that’s the point of the purpose of the lure of those who seek to call you over in song to crash upon the sand.