Review: Chris Potter – Travelling Mercies (Emarcy/Verve)

Published in the Arts section of The Charlatan.
Oct. 17, 2002

Jazz is an ensemble effort, more so than many other genres of music. In Travelling Mercies, however, the ensemble fails to blend together in a convincing manner. The drums especially are rather jarring, and ruin the laid-back effect of many of the tracks, while the various sound effects are simply annoying.

Potter’s overly improvisational style sounds discordant in many places, and none of the tracks stand out as classics for future generations. The saving grace of this CD is that the guitar and bass work exquisitely well with the sax, softening the overall tone and setting the mood.

Of note is the funky “Migrations,” which abruptly switches from a livelier beat into a slow, almost ethereal sound at the end. Potter’s wonderfully poignant instrumental cover of Willie Nelson’s “Just the Way I Am” leaves out the distracting drums and opts for a romantic piano-and-sax combo.

Travelling Mercies seems somewhat lost in a mishmash of sounds and effects; it might have done better if Potter had found a direction and stuck to it (and lost the drums on the way).

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