Adam Larson: Second City

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
When you hear "Second City" and think about improvisation, comedy comes to mind before jazz. But this music is no laughing matter. Saxophonist Adam Larson is one serious talent, as this, his fourth album to date, makes clear.

While Larson has called New York home for the past decade, Second City was recorded in its namesake locale—Chicago. It's an album rooted to Larson's Midwestern upbringing but a statement of maturity that could only emerge after some serious time away from the roost. New York has done him well, as these eight tunes demonstrate.

With bassist Clark Sommers, pianist Rob Clearfield, and drummer Jimmy Macbride by his side, Larson digs into a variety of different settings with aplomb. For starters there's "Who Even Is That?," an excitable introduction that speaks to the annual arrival of jazz musicians pursuing their dreams in The Big Apple. Then Larson delivers "Out The Window," a more reflective number that takes cues from his young son's piano explorations and features a wonderfully pensive statement from Sommers; "First Step," strutting with some NOLA swagger and offering a little space to Macbride; a "Smells Like Teen Spirit" cover which takes an airier, groovier, and more developed approach than The Bad Plus' famous rendition that initially drew the leader to the song; and "Sleep Now," an appropriately soothing lullaby that Larson penned for his son pre-arrival.

Some of the greatest shows of strength on Second City come toward its end. "Perpetuity," born of observations on politics and the polemics that come with it, is a lift-off into the stratosphere that gives Larson a chance to flex his muscles and fly. Then "Uphill Climb" goes the other way, probing into the surface to see what comes of the struggles to make your mark and get yourself heard as a musician in New York. Both numbers speak to a resolute streak in Larson's sound and standing, as does the excitable "Breakout," a piece which closes the album and showcases Clearfield's clear-headed explorations and Larson's extreme flexibility. There are no missteps or missed opportunities here. No matter how you slice it, Second City proves to be first-rate.

Track Listing: Who Even Is That?; Out the Window; First Step; Smells Like Teen Spirit; Sleep Now; Perpetuity; Uphill Climb; Breakout.

Personnel: Adam Larson: tenor saxophone; Rob Clearfield: piano, Rhodes and Wurlitzer; Clark Sommers: bass; Jimmy Macbride: drums.

Title: Second City | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Inner Circle Music


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Ariel CD/LP/Track Review Ariel
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Fukushima CD/LP/Track Review Fukushima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "The Pauper And The Magician" CD/LP/Track Review The Pauper And The Magician
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Setembro" CD/LP/Track Review Setembro
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "Glitter" CD/LP/Track Review Glitter
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "Aquarelle" CD/LP/Track Review Aquarelle
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "Oaktree" CD/LP/Track Review Oaktree
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Hybrid" CD/LP/Track Review Hybrid
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 28, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor