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Musician

Larry McKenna

Born:

One of the world’s finest jazz saxophone players, Larry McKenna is known for his gorgeous tenor saxophone sound, the beauty of his balladry, and his fluid, bebop-inspired improvisations. After six decades in his profession, his international reputation as both a masterful jazz improviser and educator is firmly established. Over the years, Larry has performed and recorded with many jazz stars including Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Buddy DeFranco, Barry Harris, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, Harry Allen, Terell Stafford, Eric Alexander, Bill Charlap, Warren Vaché, Kenny Barron, Randy Brecker, Wynton Marsalis and Frank Sinatra

Album

The Big Band Project

Label: Self Produced
Released: 2022
Track listing: This Could Be the Start of Something Big; Taking a Chance on Love; The Nearness of You; Jeepers Creepers; Stardust; Easy to Love; One Morning in May; Everything I Love; Latin Medley (O Morro Nao Tern Vez/Midnight Sun/Corcovado); Just in Time; Silent Night.

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Article: 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 ...

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Article: Interview

Pianist Joe Block: At the Start of His Big Bang

Read "Pianist Joe Block: At the Start of His Big Bang" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer


According to cosmologists, our universe started as a tiny speck and within a fraction of a second exploded into a huge ever-expanding space with all the galaxies, stars, and planets condensing out of the dispersed matter within it. This picture of the origins of the cosmos provides an apt metaphor for the way in which some ...

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Article: Live Review

Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2021

Read "Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2021" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer


Mary Ellen Desmond Comfort and Joy Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany Philadelphia, PA December 12, 2021 Mary Ellen Desmond is one of the most treasured Philadelphia-based vocalists, and for more than a decade she has provided the inspiration for and fronted the same top ...

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Article: Album Review

Temple University Jazz Band: Without You, No Me

Read "Without You, No Me" reviewed by Jack Bowers


When his friend, colleague, mentor and confidante Jimmy Heath died in January 2020, trumpeter Terell Stafford's first impulse was to find a way to honor and remember the renowned Philadelphia-born saxophonist. As Stafford is director of the Temple University Jazz Band, also in Philadelphia, an obvious way would be to record a tribute album, which Stafford ...

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News: Video / DVD

Three Seasoned Saxophone Pros

Three Seasoned Saxophone Pros

Last week, Danilo Morandi in Switzerland sent along YouTube clips of two senior tenor saxophonists who played their tails off locally. I added a third. One of these saxophonists is Larry McKenna, a Philadelphian who spent six months in Woody Herman's road band starting in 1959 before devoting much of his career to playing locally. I ...

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Article: 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 ...

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Article: 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 ...

Album

I Wish I Knew

Label: Lydian Jazz
Released: 2020
Track listing: The Great City; I Wish I Knew; It Could Happen To You; I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face; Poinciana; Alfie; Hello Young Lovers; The Shadow of Your Smile Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; In a Mellow Tone; You Go To My Head; The Party’s Over.


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