10

Larry McKenna: From All Sides

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count
Larry McKenna: From All Sides Larry McKenna's tenor saxophone playing is addictive. It's like driving a Maserati: you're probably going to want to take it on the road again and again, because it is so elegant and finely engineered. A product of the late swing band era (he did a turn with Woody Herman), McKenna has kept rigorously on a course that started with Lester Young and culminated with Stan Getz. He has honed that genre to such perfection that today he provides the gold standard.

In this album, McKenna takes his Maserati for a spin that involves a degree of risk. He gathers together eight sidemen and a vocalist (Joanna Pascale), each of whom is a rugged individualist, and strives to make them work together seamlessly. In addition, he offers eight original tunes, four with lyrics by his recent sidekick Melissa Gilstrap, thus taking a leap into composing and arranging, a talent which he has kept secreted in a vault he has previously opened only to a few admiring associates. (He reportedly has sequestered a huge cache of original charts.) McKenna succeeds in bringing all this diverse talent together into a coherent whole, mainly because his own playing is the magnificent jewel that shines through it all, and also because most of the other players work with him frequently and have enormous respect for him. So they adjust.

Thanks to the sound engineer, Glenn Ferracone, himself a seasoned drummer, the recording has the presence and spontaneity of a live performance reminiscent of Rudy Van Gelder's iconic studio recordings of greats like John Coltrane and other pioneers of the hard bop era. The standards, "Everything I've Got," "That Old Black Magic," "September Song," and "I'll Never Be the Same" swing brightly and include marvelous improvisations by virtually all the players. The piquant lyrics of Melissa Gilstrap are set off nicely by McKenna's understated melodic turns. And McKenna's instrumental originals, "Samba de Else," and "You're It," are beautifully arranged to include subtle interplays among the diverse musicians.

Both the horns and the rhythm section are virtuosos at the top of their game. Special notice should be given to George Rabbai, the great bebop trumpeter, who plays with his usual quickness, sensitivity and panache, and Joe McDonough, one of few trombonists capable of the lush, smooth sound ofUrbie Green who nevertheless achieves the clever phraseology of Frank Rosolino. The combined styles of McKenna, Rabbai, and McDonough, along with the four McKenna/Gilstrap songs, provide the unique flavorings that make this album stand out in the crowd.

Track Listing: Everything I’ve Got; One Falling Tree; That Old Black Magic; The Close Things; September Song; Friends for a While; Samba de Else; Side Stepping; I’ll Never Be the Same; Action Blues; Christmas is Being with You; You’re It.

Personnel: Larry McKenna: tenor saxophone; Joanna Pascale: vocals (tracks 2, 4, 6. 11); George Rabbai: trumpet (4, 8. 11) and flugelhorn (7); Joe McDonough: trombone (2-8, 11); Tom Lawton: piano (1, 4 7-12); Joshua Richman: piano (2, 3, 5, 6); Kevin McConnell: bass (1-3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12); Lee Smith: bass (4, 7, 8, 11); Pete Smyser: guitars (2, 3, 5, 7, 11); Dan Monaghan: drums.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Windmills CD/LP/Track Review Windmills
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Ugly Beautiful CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Trickster CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Caipi CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read United CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Acceptance" CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Jim Olin
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High) / Silver Linings / Take Me / Rollin' With The Flow" CD/LP/Track Review Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High) / Silver Linings /...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 1, 2016
Read "The Expensive Train Set" CD/LP/Track Review The Expensive Train Set
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 5, 2016
Read "Up North" CD/LP/Track Review Up North
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 17, 2017
Read "Forest Grove" CD/LP/Track Review Forest Grove
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Smooth Shake" CD/LP/Track Review Smooth Shake
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 3, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!