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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 love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.