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Album Review

The Adam Larson Trio: With Love, From Chicago


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The Adam Larson Trio: With Love, From Chicago
The experience begins with the cover art, an old school black-and-white photo of Kansas City-based saxophonist Adam Larson with his hair swooped up in something of a modest 1950s pompadour, like an early Sun Records artist—Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley—sitting in the studio with his ax laid out in front of him. Except Larson's ax is not the guitar; it is the saxophone in the photo's foreground. And the Presley pompadour? It really isn't one; a ball cap pushed back on Larson's head, into the dark shadows, enhances this illusion.

But With Love From Chicago is no Sun Records rockabilly workout; it is instead a chordless jazz trio—sax, bass and drums—allowing Larson and company to enjoy a freewheeling respite from harmonic constraints. From the sound of it, a great time was had by all involved.

The Larson original, "Angolan Babysitter," opens the disc. The writing of the tune was inspired by the rhythms of Africa and a well-intentioned but ultimately unwise offer (no good deed goes unpunished?) by his then quartet's bassist to hold an Angolan mother's infant during a flight to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The music features a churning groove and a rollicking trio dynamic coalescing around a compelling melody.

That opener sets the tone for the entire set. It is easy to imagine Larson playing sax in a fifties rock band; his sound has a boldness, and a honking, squawking, loose- jointed feeling. Bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall jostle and elbow and bump heads all down the line, like three soccer players on three different teams (maybe they pay it that way somewhere) charging down the field, fighting for possession of the ball.

Larson wrote three of the ten tunes; Sommers came up with four. Throw in three covers, most notably Thelonious Monk's "We See," taken at a fiery tempo—a thrashing, ramshackle sound which makes for a distinctive and compelling, rough-around-the-edges jazz.

This nod to Chicago—where Larson gained the confidence to become the artist he was meant to be—is the first of three planned trio outings to be released over an eighteen-month period, each with a different bass and drum line-up. An ambitious plan. With Love, From Chicago is a terrific first step.

Track Listing

Angolan Babysitter; The Time You Forgot You Knew; Kansas To Chicago; In Waiting; We See; Twirl; Portrait of Jenna; Root Fruit; Tierney's Song; Firestarter.


Adam Larson: saxophone; Clark Sommers: bass; Dana Hall: drums.

Album information

Title: With Love, From Chicago | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Outside in Music

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