A Philadelphia all-star jazz group provided some of the finest jazz played anywhere at Chris' Jazz Cafe this past weekend. The group included: Bootsie Barnes and Larry McKenna, tenor sax; John Swana, trumpet; Sid Simmons, piano and his trio with Mike Boone on bass and Byron Landham, drums).
Al McMahon, Chris' club manager, said, "Bootsie is the premiere bop and Larry, the premiere swing player. John can play and excel in any styleswing, bop, free style, probably the most diverse trumpet player in the world. They're all great. Pete Souders, owner of Ortlieb's Jazz Haus, another major local club, added, "Larry and Bootsie can do it all.
Swana said, "I hope I have a style that transcends everything I play. He lists Miles Davis, Kenny Durham, Dizzy Gillespie and Freddy Hubbard as influences. He explained his Philly base saying, "I like the town, more laid back than New York with a strong musicians camaraderie.
Sid Simmons, from North Philly , cited by Chris' as a major Philadelphia jazz star, works regularly at Ortliebs, He notes "I haven't been locked into one style, but prefer straight ahead jazz, swinging with every generation so we do it our way.
Bootsie, one of the top tenor sax men anywhere, has been working major jazz clubs here since school days with classmates Bill Cosby, Lex Humphries and Al "Tootie Heath. He said, "I prepared myself so I could play with the best of them and I feel blessed because most musicians never get that opportunity.
McKenna, as noted earlier, has worked with such top stars as Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Johnny Carson and played and appeared in the movie "Birdy. He traveled nationally with Woody Herman , but prefers working various gigs in his home town of Philadelphia. He is along with Bootsie a Philadelphia jazz treasure. Among the numbers played was an original composition or two along with a glorious treatment of the standard, "Everything Happens To Me."
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!