Conference Call: Anika Larsen & Freddie Maxwell: The Larsen/Maxwell Quintet "Make You Feel My Love" at Feinstein's/54 Below
For over 10 years I have been a fan of Anika Larsen's. The first show I ever saw her in was Zana, Don't. After that, I was hooked. It's so exciting now to get to interview Anika & her husband Freddie, together, as they ready for their Feinstein's/54 Below debut this October with their band "The Larsen/Maxwell Quintet."
This show is the musical story of their worlds coming together. Anika is known for her roles in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Avenue Q, Xanadu, All Shook Up, Zana, Don't and Rent. Freddie toured with luminaries such as Frank Sinatra and Alicia Keys. This concert is a jazzy, sexy spin on Broadway, pop, and Latin tunes that were pivotal in their lives. The night will also feature songs from Anika’s album Sing You To Sleep.
"The Larsen/Maxwell Quintet" will be at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street) on October 19 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!
This performance is produced by Dan Watt and DancinDan Productions.
1. This October you are making your NYC/Feinstein's/54 Below debut together as your new band "The Larsen/Maxwell Quintet." When did you decide to officially form a group together?
Both: We’ve wanted to perform together since we met, but it was tricky to figure out how. If Freddie played the piano, we could gig around like Captain and Tennille, but nobody wants to hear just a trumpet and a voice jamming together. Freddie began to talk about forming a quintet, and then a new jazz spot opened up near us, Maureen’s Jazz Cellar in Nyack, NY, and the possibility of playing there was the impetus to finally get the band together.
2. You first started working together during the creation of Anika's album Sing You To Sleep. What has it been like to collaborate together as artists?
Anika: I first fell for Freddie by watching him play at B.B. King’s on our blind date. The more I’ve gotten to know his talent, the more I am impressed by him and his musicianship. It’s wicked attractive, and getting to perform together is super romantic.
Freddie: I’ve loved learning from Anika’s different, theatrical perspective. She knows how to put on a show and I trust her instincts. Working with her has also given me a greater appreciation of lyrics, since I guess before her I was always more focused on the music.
3. Since you are married and working together, has your dynamic changed as husband/wife or do you keep work separate from home life?
Both: Music is such an integral part of our daily life that it wouldn’t be possible to keep work separate. You could say it’s one of the languages we use to communicate. And now with our little boys, it’s a huge part of our parenting. We have a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, and they both have great pitch and absolutely love making music with us. We have "Family Music Time" and we will most assuredly have a family band. The boys don’t have a choice in the matter.
4. What can you tell us about this upcoming show at Feinstein's/54 Below on October 19?
Freddie: Coming from the theater world, Anika craves story when she goes to a concert, so we are going to use music to tell the story of our professional lives, how they led to us meeting, and how our experiences have broadened our understanding of the power of music in peoples’ lives.
5. What is one song each of you are most excited to perform?
Anika: We’re going to do “One For My Baby (and One More For the Road)” because Freddie played with Frank Sinatra. That song is from a time when people really knew how to write music, boy, how to write a pop song with a story that’ll break your heart. The song gets me every time and I get a little thrill at the thought of performing it.
Freddie: “How Come You Don’t Call Me” by Alicia Keys. It’s been 15 years since I toured with her, and it was a really great time in my life, so I’m looking forward to revisiting that music.
6. One month out, what are most nervous about?
Anika: In my musical theater world, we rehearse for six weeks and then have weeks of previews before we are expected to give our fully realized performance. Jazz musicians like Freddie resent having to rehearse and don’t want to play the same exact thing twice. Which they can get away with because they are such phenomenal musicians. I secretly feel like a little bit of a musical fraud trying to hang with these fellas, and I get nervous about not having enough prep time. But we’ve managed to pull it off the other times we’ve performed, so I’m trying to remind myself of that for this gig.
Freddie: I’m most nervous about getting the wood cut before winter.
Anika: See? He’s not nervous at all. He’s a pro. And it’s super hot.