Hard Bop / Cool Jazz • United States
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David Larsen is the director of instrumental studies at Spokane Falls Community College. He holds a PhD from Washington State University and degrees from Pacific University, University of Oregon, and Western Oregon University. David has been a presenter/performer for the Jazz Education Network, North American Saxophone Alliance, and several other conferences and festivals.

David is an active adjudicator and works with various festivals around the US.

David has performed with a variety of artists including Ken Peplowski, Francisco Torres, Dave Glenn, Ron Vincent, Bill Mays, Dean Johnson, and the internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist, Halie Loren.

David’s release, The Mulligan Chronicles (2021), is an homage of Gerry Mulligan and has received international radio play and rave reviews. Recently, David appeared on the Origin Records release New Normal (2021) by Greg Yasinitsky and was featured on the award-winning Halie Loren album Butterfly Blue (2015). Larsen’s previous releases include Borrowed Time (2018), One of a Kind
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DAVID LARSEN Discography

DAVID LARSEN albums / top albums

DAVID LARSEN One of a Kind album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
One of a Kind
Hard Bop 2016
DAVID LARSEN Night Shift album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Night Shift
Hard Bop 2016
DAVID LARSEN Borrowed Time album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Borrowed Time
Hard Bop 2019
DAVID LARSEN The Mulligan Chronicles album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Mulligan Chronicles
Hard Bop 2021
DAVID LARSEN The Max Quartet album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Max Quartet
Hard Bop 2021
DAVID LARSEN Deviate from Standards album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Deviate from Standards
Hard Bop 2021
DAVID LARSEN The Peplowski Project album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
The Peplowski Project
Cool Jazz 2023


DAVID LARSEN G2 and You album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
G2 and You
Hard Bop 2021
DAVID LARSEN The Sextet Sessions album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Sextet Sessions
Hard Bop 2022

DAVID LARSEN live albums

DAVID LARSEN demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

DAVID LARSEN re-issues & compilations

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DAVID LARSEN movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)


DAVID LARSEN The Peplowski Project

Album · 2023 · Cool Jazz
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Let's get into it. First off, we're talking about David Larsen's album "The Peplowski Project," a tribute to straight-ahead jazz and the Al Cohn/Zoot Sims quintet of the 1950s. Larsen is both an educator and a practitioner of jazz, adding academic and experiential dimensions to his music. The album boasts a mix of jazz standards, Cohn arrangements, and Larsen's original compositions, all of which are served with a sonic flavor that blends the old with the new. With that as a backdrop, let's dig into this album, shall we?

Now, listen up, swing lovers, because the rhythm section on this album is what we in the biz call "tight." Jake Svendsen on piano, Josh Skinner on bass, and Brendan McMurphy on drums are not just accompanying musicians here; they're an integral part of the project. Svendsen's piano work adds a sophisticated color palette, bringing nuanced flair to tunes like "Love Me or Leave Me." Meanwhile, Skinner's bass lines are a lesson in harmonic foundations. Check out his role in "Black Nightgown"; he starts off with just Peplowski, creating a duo that's delicate but articulate. McMurphy on drums gives the ensemble its pulse, its heartbeat if you will, contributing significantly to tracks like "He Who Getz the Last Laugh."

So, let's talk instrumentation. The combo of clarinet and different types of saxophones is somewhat of a rarity these days, making this a must-listen. On "All the Things You Are," for instance, Larsen's baritone sax kicks off the album with gravitas, while Ken Peplowski's clarinet responds with eloquence. This contrast in timbre showcases the versatility of reed instruments in a jazz setting, adding layers of complexity and texture.

And let's not overlook the album's tribute to the legendary Al Cohn. If Cohn was a novelist, Larsen has become a master of his literary style. Originals like "Into the Mild" and "Tenor for Dinner" pay homage without veering into imitation. They encapsulate the spirit of 1950s jazz—those harmonic choices, those groovy rhythms, but all with an exceptional touch.

"Black Nightgown" provides an excellent microcosm of the album's thematic elements. Set to a relaxed medium swing, the ensemble initially builds a light, airy environment that methodically crescendos to swing harder as it progresses. Larsen's baritone sax solo showcases his stylistic skill; his ideas dance out of his horn with clear articulation, harmonic spellings, and a big, round tone that commands attention. Then enters Peplowski with his clarinet solo, initially accompanied solely by Skinner on bass. It's a return to the light and delicate style of the beginning, an exercise in atmospheric contrast. Once McMurphy and Svendsen rejoin the space, there's an unmistakable lift in energy. And let me tell you, Peplowski responds in kind, adding dynamic layers to his clarinet playing that elevates the track to new heights.

To be clear, the dynamic unfolding in "Black Nightgown" is no one-time-wonder; it is a sonic blueprint for the entire album. Just like a well-structured syllabus, it gives you an idea of what's to come—ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys—all while keeping you engaged and, dare I say, emotionally invested.

Alright, let's kick it up a notch, my scholarly audiophiles! We've talked about some standout tracks already, but there's so much more to unpack in "The Peplowski Project." These additional compositions not only show off the ensemble's versatility but also the individual mastery of each musician involved. Let's groove through some examples, shall we?

Starting with "Jazz Line Blues," this Al Cohn composition runs for 4:12 and is a deliciously riff-based piece. Larsen comes in strong with a tenor solo that's as engaging as a charismatic lecturer on the first day of class. Peplowski follows suit, maneuvering his tenor through the iconic rhythm changes with fluid lines and a rhythm so tight it would make a metronome jealous.

"Love Me or Leave Me," originally by Walter Donaldson, begins with Svendsen's piano setting a shuffle swing tone that's as excellent and fluid as a well-argued thesis. Larsen's tenor and Peplowski's clarinet then dive in, fully embracing the rhythm laid down by the keys.

Now, don't overlook our man Brendan McMurphy on the skins. The drum work on tracks like "Tenor for Dinner" adds intricate polyrhythms, transforming what could've been a standard groove into an intellectual escapade of timing and feel. McMurphy, my friends, is a human swing machine with the soul of a poet.

Finally, let's talk about Larsen's own "Tenor for Dinner," a hard-bop journey that showcases the two saxophones interacting like two intellectuals debating a complex topic. Sometimes they harmonize; other times, they diverge in counterpoint. The improvised solos are the real cherry on top, followed by a trading of phrases that makes for a stimulating auditory experience as enthralling as a plot twist in a good novel. After that enthralling debate in "Tenor for Dinner," brace yourselves, because "Doodle Oodle" is the final exam where our jazz scholars prove they've done their homework and are ready to graduate summa cum laude.

In tracks like "Doodle Oodle," you see Larsen and Peplowski switch gears and turn up the tempo. The rapid pace isn't just for show; it serves as a sonic playground for these musicians to flex their technical prowess. And let me tell you, they execute it with both flair and precision, all the while maintaining the spirit of the '50s jazz language. This is what we call "pedagogy in practice," my friends.

All in all, "The Peplowski Project" is not just an album; it's a masterclass in straight-ahead jazz. It explores the rich textures of reed instruments, delves into complex harmonic landscapes, and swings hard, all while paying homage to jazz greats. It's not just for the Cats; it's for anyone keen on a complex yet accessible musical journey that'll leave you both satiated and hungry for more. It's a win-win, my fellow scholars!

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