Many artists find an affinity for the spontaneous to be a part of their constitution; Adam Larson, over the years, has had to cultivate his. Since he came to New York from the Midwest nearly a decade ago, the 28-year-old saxophonist/composer has pushed himself through transpositions not only of artistic expression, but life philosophy. A need for adaptation has transformed into desire for openness, and an evolving flexibility now pervades his sound.
“I do feel like, in my younger days, I would step on the bandstand and say, ‘Okay, I’ve been doing all this stuff in the practice room; I’m going to just go into shred mode and let the chips fall where they may,” says Larson. “But now—I mean what’s the point of hiring all these great musicians if you don’t take advantage of what they’re going to do? I think listening to how people interact and create has helped.”
A few weeks ago, Larson put together a last-minute gig at 55 Bar. Surrounded by three risk-taking improvisers—Ari Hoenig, Matt Clohesy and Fabian Almazan—Larson felt supported, if a bit nervous. Without time to rehearse before the hit, he considered abandoning a new tune he had been looking forward to premiering, but decided to embrace the raw dynamic instead.
“I almost bailed on it,” he says. “We got to that tune in the set—it was a packed house—and I was like, ‘Okay, I have everybody here I need with me.’ [The anxiety] was irrational because I was playing with three of the best musicians I know, so it could have gone wrong and still been great. And it was great. It was really great.”
A band-leading tenor player, Larson has been involved with certain projects whose members rehearse intently and others whose members don’t rehearse at all. He appreciates each as its own, unique opportunity. “Both have their benefits,” he says. “If you rehearse [the tunes] to death, there’s maybe not as much spontaneity, but if it’s under-rehearsed, it could go two ways; it could be catastrophic or loose and cool.” (more…)