Saxophonist Chris Potter, 29, has been named the winner of the 2000 JAZZPAR prize, in Denmark, one of the most prestigious jazz awards in the world.
"Chris is one of these incredible natural geniuses, I think," trumpeter Dave Douglas said. "It is just his facility and uniqueness. He doesn't sound like anybody else. He swings his ass off with our group and is on the new Steely Dan record, where he sounds great."
Potter, the youngest musician to win the award, picks up $30,000 and joins the company of previous winners such as pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, saxophonist David Murray, drummer Roy Haynes and pianists Geri Allen and Martial Solal.
Potter, who lives in New York, plays alto and soprano in bassist Dave Holland's band; tenor on bassist Steve Swallow's new record, Deconstructed; and a variety of reeds in Douglas' quartet. Potter also plays on the new Steely Dan album, 2 Against Nature. He has worked with trumpeter Red Rodney, drummer Paul Motian and the Mingus Big Band.
Picking up his prize, Potter was asked how he is able to be so multifaceted and consistent.
"Listening and just thinking without the horn in my hands is valuable," he said. "It's actually pretty easy to do something new. But to really hear what's in your head, what you feel really expresses you that rises in an organic way that takes a lot of time and conscious effort."