July 11, 2013
You’ve got to hand it to Canada. It has been synonymous with great jazz and World talent. There’s Warren Hill, Johannes Linstead, Jesse Cook, and countless others. Now emerging with his sophomore U.S. release is another Canadian with major contemporary jazz promise: saxman Walle Larsson. The jam-heavy, melody-rich project is called One Step Closer. Incidentally, it’s no typo if you’re also looking at my review of the Urban Jazz Coalition…they both have the same CD title! I’ve never before experienced that at the same time. An interesting “Hmm” moment.
Larsson brings the party fully loaded with all of the ingredients needed to get and keep your attention. With guest appearances by Steve Oliver, Jonathan Fritzen, and Tom Schuman, among others, the saxman pours his soul into this effort with riveting tunes like the funky movin’ and shakin’ lead track “Laws of Groove,” the simmering sweetness of ”Nordica,” the lively up-tempo groove “Bridges” featuring Fritzen firing away on piano, and the very communicative “Unspoken” (love the hook here). Then, there’s the smooth title track with its mid-tempo funk vibe and the dance-ready track “Got It.” There’s plenty more where this comes from. Yep, this party’s on.
Larsson strutted through the contemporary jazz doors with his debut U.S. album After the Night and hasn’t stopped moving forward since. Determined to fit in his groove with so many others who wear the sax and funk so well, Larsson may well have easily carved out that space for himself. If he didn’t do it with his debut release, this new effort should surely get it done. – Ronald Jackson