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Adam Larson: With Love, From Chicago

Adam Larson: Con amore, da Chicago
La copertina di With Love, From Chicago di Adam Larson

Adam Larson è un giovane virtuoso del sassofono pieno di  sicurezza. Ha autoprodotto il suo primo disco mentre era ancora al liceo, si è laureato con due lauree alla Manhattan School of Music e ora è in una facoltà di conservatorio. Yet With Love, From Chicago ha un’umiltà che lievita l’abbondante teoria musicale e l’ego del prodigio.

For this trio record, Larson enlists a pair of Windy City stalwarts: bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall. On the opener, Larson’s “Angolan Babysitter,” Hall engages Larson in spirited call-and-response, then delivers a lengthy solo. The next three compositions are by Sommers, and all of them (but especially “The Time You Forgot You Knew”) create crucial space for his woody tone.

Fostering a genuine ensemble over a leader/sidemen dynamic better showcases Larson’s talents. His tenor can move with quicksilver fluidity, but, like early Donny McCaslin or Joel Frahm (he’s studied with both), the unpredictability impresses more than the speed. His phrases variously tumble and veer, feint and plunge, or suddenly rear up and poise like an alert animal. There is heart in the technique: On Sommers’ ballad “In Waiting,” Larson’s vibrato unearths the emotional complexity of determination amid uncertainty.

Larson’s tour de force is on the title song from the 1948 movie Portrait of Jenny. The plush, bittersweet blues conjures Lester Young; the playful sidebars and tempo shifts are reminiscent of Sonny Rollins. But if you’re looking for joyrides, the trio chops and tosses Monk’s “We See” at a puree pace

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