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Jazz Articles about Larry McKenna

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Liner Notes

John Swana: Philly Gumbo Vol.2

Read "John Swana: Philly Gumbo Vol.2" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan


It seems like a lot of up and coming trumpeters these days go for the bop stylings of Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw as their main influence. Far fewer look to players like Art Farmer or Kenny Wheeler for inspiration. That's what has made watching the development of Philadelphia trumpet man John Swana so fascinating over the years. While he has the chops needed to communicate in the high-octane language of be-bop, his tone and use of space suggest that ...

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Album Review

Larry McKenna: World On A String

Read "World On A String" reviewed by Richard J Salvucci


Larry McKenna is not really a celebrity. He probably never will be. He plays tenor sax in and around jny: Philadelphia. He apparently does not say a lot--although he clearly has a puckish sense of humor. It comes out in his playing. It is possible to drive by his suburban home, vaguely aware that a saxophonist, a pretty good one, lives there and keep right on going. A sort of metaphor for McKenna and his career (read our 2007 interview). ...

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Album Review

Maci Miller: Nine

Read "Nine" reviewed by Richard J Salvucci


jny:Philadelphia-based singer Maci Miller gives her audience a variety of looks, all of them good. On first hearing, Blossom Dearie, but then, Blossom Dearie was Blossom Dearie. No one ever sounded quite like her. Then again, there is some mid 1960s Nancy Wilson, hushed, clipped, all business. On reflecting that Dearie and Wilson an odd combination do make, one just listens and stops thinking influences, other than “eclectic." Or maybe Billie Holiday, if Miller is in the mood. A Philly ...

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Album Review

Jim Levendis: The Big Band Project

Read "The Big Band Project" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Jim Levendis knew that time was running out. In his mid-seventies, the veteran Philadelphia-area trumpeter and educator had contracted ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), the effects of which were rapidly sapping his energy and ability to function. As the disease progressed, Levendis confided in Len Pierro, a band mate in the Ward Marston band, that there was one thing he would dearly love to do while he was still able: record some of the big-band arrangements he had written over the ...

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Album Review

The Len Pierro Jazz Orchestra: The Third Quarter

Read "The Third Quarter" reviewed by Edward Blanco


Flourtown, PA native Len Pierro unveils one monster big band album that will be reverberating well beyond the boundaries of Pennsylvania and from radio studios throughout the jazz landscape for quite a long time. The Third Quarter is The Len Pierro Jazz Orchestra's recent offering and what an offering of fresh original compositions and re-imagined jazz standards it is. The 63-year-old saxophonist has produced one heck of an album of traditional straight-ahead swinging jazz that defines what ...

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Album Review

The Len Pierro Jazz Orchestra: The Third Quarter

Read "The Third Quarter" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Any big-band album that opens with a rollicking Four Brothers-style saxophone soli is all but guaranteed to capture one's ear and interest. As it turns out, the buoyant “Fill in the Gap," on which the sax section sparkles, is but the first of many sonic delights on The Third Quarter, a marvelous new CD by Philadelphia-based composer / arranger Len Pierro and his world-class Jazz Orchestra. Simply put, there are no discernible blemishes to mar a bright and picturesque tour ...

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Album Review

Mike Melito/Dino Losito Quartet: You're It!

Read "You're It!" reviewed by Jack Bowers


The album cover says “Mike Melito / Dino Losito Quartet." What it does not say is that drummer Melito and pianist Losito have at their beck-and-call an awesome secret weapon, Philadelphia-based tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna, a phenom from the Lester Young school of elegant swinging whose voice on the horn is as debonair and persuasive as any you are likely to hear. It is hard to imagine while listening to McKenna glide easily through cadences from ballad to barn-burner that ...


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