Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chris Potter Masterclass

Wednesday night it was off to PM Woodwindhosts of a masterclass by Chris Potter (who was in town with Pat Metheny's Unity Group).

Unsurprisingly it was a full-house (they took advance bookings for this event). Potter kicked off the evening with a solo rendition of "Invitation" and then launched straight into questions. Here's the video that PM Woodwind posted.
Thankfully the audience was willing and there were plenty of raised hands.

There wasn't too much gear talk (he got that out of the way early) but plenty about life on the road and spending time on the horn. The emphasis was on self discovery and finding your own way with music - getting the simple things together and working from there.

When it came to saxophone specific information, Potter was an advocate of working on overtones to help open up your sound and stressed trying to remove physical tension as much as possible when playing. Potter said he records himself often as a way of evaluating the effect changes (physical/mental) have on his tone.

He described working on harmony as a series of moving voices rather than a set of vertical chords - demonstrated playing "Invitation" on piano and then on the saxophone.

On composition, he encouraged people to dive in - the more you write the easier it becomes and if you write enough, eventually you will write something you like - was the gist of it.

For those interested in odd-meter playing, he recommended playing them a lot and suggested feeling it as a groove rather than counting it out. Learning how to phrase the melody before delving into improving - playing a chorus of "All The Things You Are" in 5/4 to demonstrate.

Over recent weeks his listening has included Bill Withers, A Tribe Called Quest and Gyorgy Ligeti. And every couple of months he revisits his old favourites such as Charlie Parker (probably the player he talked the most about), John Coltrane and Duke Ellington.

Potter finished the evening with "My One & Only Love."

It's great Paul organises and hosts these masterclasses (added bonus…. they're free!). I've tried to get to as many as I can since I have been in town and posted about the Bob Sheppard & David Liebman Masterclasses. If you are in or around Chicago, be sure to get along to them.

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