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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by Will Boisture, courtesy of the artist

Photo by Will Boisture, courtesy of the artist

Saxophonist Adam Larson has been a regular at The Jazz Gallery since February 2009, when he made his Thursday night début while still an undergraduate at the Manhattan School of Music. Larson, who will be finishing up his Master’s degree at MSM next month, returns to the Gallery this Saturday leading a new quintet that features Matthew Stevens on guitar, John Escreet on piano, Matt Penman on bass, and longtime collaborator Jimmy Macbride on drums. Regarding the personnel in this new configuration, Adam told us:

I’ve had the real pleasure to play with Matt Penman a couple times, and thankfully he’s available. He’s somebody I look up to quite a bit; he’s in all my favorite bands and plays with my favorite saxophonists. I have John on the piano for the first time for a while. He was on my first gig at the Gallery in February 2009, and it’ll be nice to have him in the band. I’m inspired by him because he’s one of the most hardworking individuals I’ve ever met in New York. I just can’t keep up with every record he puts out, and he pushes me in the same vein rhythmically on stage.

It’s also the first time in six years with a different guitarist, and I’ve been trying to play with Matt [Stevens] for some time so it’ll be a great opportunity. And Jimmy: we’ve been playing on-and-off forever, but I think for the music we’re going to be presenting, it’s the right call for drums.

And on the new music they’ll be playing:

I’ve been trying to get out of how I usually write, which is from the piano. I also tend to write from the saxophone perspective, which ends up being pretty difficult for the saxophone, or I have a tendency to write at the piano and the melody’s not what I want. The music for this is more thought out, I’d say. I’ve been listening to Kneebody quite a bit and one of my tunes is called “McWendel’s,” so it’s an homage to Ben Wendel and Donny McCaslin, who I’ve been listening to quite a bit.

Compositionally speaking, I’m big on rhythm and so is Donny—I was a student of his for a while—so some of the tunes are built off of vamps. I think the idea of how to get from one vamp to the next is something I’m trying to and still trying to iron out. How the music sounds and feels, coming from the place of a rock groove or something that’s straight 8th—I don’t know how to describe it, but I’m using those other bands as points of reference. The rhythmic devices in their composing and soloing are something that I’ve been checking out.

The Adam Larson Quintet performs at The Jazz Gallery this Saturday, May 3rd, 2014. The quintet features Larson on alto, tenor, and soprano saxophones, Matthew Stevens on guitar, John Escreet on piano, Matt Penman on bass, and Jimmy Macbride on drums. Sets are at 9 and 11 p.m. $22 general admission and $10 for members. Purchase tickets here.