Adam Larson – Selective Amnesia (2015)

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Saxophonist and composer Adam Larson sets a high bar with his upcoming release Selective Amnesia, pulling on two years of experiences to gather eight stellar tracks for his third major studio release.

His heady band of fellow New York-based collaborators includes pianist Fabian Almazan, guitarist Matthew Stevens, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jimmy MacBride, who join Larson on a series of emotionally and harmonically complex compositions. The result is a collection of songs which are satisfying on more than one level.

“Suitable Replacement,” the lead track on Adam Larson’s Selective Amnesia, starts tentatively but builds in complexity and confidence. Larson’s solos breathe with passion and grace, even as Almazan’s piano asides once again find the special elegance displayed on his solo works. What a fine way to start an album. “Vanished Theories” cools things off slightly, yet displays a complexity and grace which it impossible to overlook.

Guitarist Matthew Stevens steps forward on the track “McWendel,” an homage to saxophonists Donny McCaslin and Ben Wendel. Adam Larson’s saxophone almost spars with itself, before letting Almazan and the rhythm section in on the fun. Steven’s playing is forceful but fitting. The fade out allows drummer MacBride to shine as well.

Then “Disguise” changes gears, with a brooding yet adventuresome tempo and a jaunty sax interlude. Each member of the band is allowed space to shine here. “Shitpay” is defiant and powerful, with a slow-burning energy catapulted by the interaction of Almazan’s piano with bassist Penman and drummer MacBride. Adam Larson’s saxophone is limber and jaunty all the way until the end. “Your Loss” is close to epic in proportion, with Larson’s saxophone tastefully intertwined with Steven’s guitar. The song builds and builds with passion and energy allowing each band member to propel the song forward. Adam Larson’s solos are jaw dropping.

“The Dope Pope,” the final track on Selective Amnesia, brings the album full circle, elevating the listener with a tight and sophisticated rhythm and articulate sax lead and solos to match. This project shows maturity, virtuosity and elegance — and does so in just eight songs. Adam Larson’s Selective Amnesia (due November 3, 2015 via Inner Circle Music) is not to be missed if you are a connoisseur of fine jazz.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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