John Potter’s Amores Pasados

4th September 2015

Title: Amores Pasados

Label: ECM

I must admit to being rather diverted before I put this CD in my player. Loading this CD up, I was expecting another one of ECM’s fine jazz excursions and so was rather surprised to be plunged into a harmonic array of voices. Well, array is overdoing things a tad. Potter himself supplies one of the voices while Anna Maria Friman supplies another in addition to the hardanger fiddle. The ensemble, incidentally, is complete with Ariel Abramovich and Jacob Heringman, both of whom add the strings of the lute to the arrangement.

The rather shocking aspect of this album is its rocking connection which in no way impose themselves upon this CD. The connections are specially commissioned works from Led Zeppelin’s famed bassist, John Paul Jones, ex-Police man, Sting and Genesis keyboard impresario, Tony Banks. An interesting collection, eh?

Potter commented, “Asking a rock music composer to set existing poetry within a genre we knew well meant that we singers wouldn’t need to pretend to be pop singers – we were still ‘interpreting’ a text in a way that we’re familiar with.” In effect, these rock chaps were wandering into Potter’s territory.

Tony Banks set 17th century poems by Thomas Campion (whose songs can also be heard here) and John Paul Jones set poems from the three great ages of Spanish literature. Sting’s Bury Me Deep in the Greenwood was originally intended for the film Robin Hood and incorporates his own lyrics.

Arrangement of the songs was established in the session at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in November 2014.

The album is classical in nature, poetical in style and sparse in arrangement. The voice is dominant here and forms the basis for the melody, the lyric and also the colour. The strings are merely the grammatical forms to allow the voices space and time to tell their story. An album of meditative reflection.