Album Review: Deviate from Standards by David Larsen
Album Title: Deviate from Standards
Artist: David Larsen
Deviate from Standards, a compilation of original compositions by saxophonist David Larsen, emerged during the shutdowns imposed on global communities through the COVID-19 pandemic, as a means for him to keep playing music. The concept for the tracks evolved over time as Larsen worked on them, tweaking the arrangements and grooming the melodic layers. The final product swings with a kinetic propulsion that lifts listeners off the ground and through passages of fun-loving soundscapes.
Ken Peplowski’s clarinet is the driving force on “Augmented Reality,” honing the track into a delightful romp. His playful interaction with Larsen’s saxophone pervades a spontaneous jostling that is reminiscent of vintage jazz combo jamming. The rapid pulse of Nick Isherwood’s bass secures a bedding of tiny quivers along “Smoke Screen,” setting the jet-skiing pace of the track as the horns rivet streaks of sheer merriment across the melodic progressions.
The shimmery serenade of “Family” is branded in the soft strokes of Larsen’s saxophone as Kate Skinner’s keys infuse tendrils of waltzing glimmers across the sound passages, encasing the listener in serenity. The recording returns to a swinging pulsation along the bubbling beats of “He Who Getz the Last Laugh,” referencing saxophonist Stan Getz in the title. Traits of vintage swing liken to Getz’s music are evident, and yet, Larsen keeps the vibe contemporary. His marshaling of nostalgic with modern gives his music an ageless glint.
Larsen’s attributes as a bandleader put him in the caliber of leaders like Henry Mancini and John Barry, reflective in his comfy stride and penchant to be uplifting. Entering his fourth decade of life, David Larsen plays with the perception and insight of an old soul encapsulated in a youthful spirit.
David Larsen – baritone and tenor saxophone
Brendan McMurphy – trumpet, flugelhorn, and drums
Greg Yasinitsky – tenor and baritone saxophone
Ken Peplowski – clarinet
Kate Skinner – piano and keyboards
Danny McCollim – keyboards
Josh Skinner – bass
Nick Isherwood – bass