The bold-face names on this release are drummer Mike Melito and pianist Dino Losito. However, the name of the performer treasure is buried in quasi-mice type on the bottom of the front cover, and that is tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna. He is the difference maker.
The two principals are from upstate New York and have worked together for many years along with NYC bassist Neal Miner. Their interplay demonstrates a symbiotic relationship and consequently they have a sense of undivided engagement with each other. McKenna who is a Philadelphia native, was 82 on the date of this session, and there was not a hint of any diminution in his playing capabilities. He is regarded as stellar saxophonist with a full-bodied gorgeous sound, and a masterly approach to his bop-inspired improvisations.
The album opens with the title track "You're It," a McKenna original. It whips along in a swinging groove with McKenna showing he is a tenor saxophonist of creativity and self-assurance. Melito, Miner and Losito illustrate that they are a rakish rhythm section. The transition into "These Foolish Things" is taken at a moderate tempo and is a backdrop for McKenna's inquiring instincts. Both Miner and Losito take advantage of the interesting arrangement to reveal that their playing is brimming with verve and imagination.
"What A Difference a Day Makes" was originally written by Maria Grever in 1934 as a Spanish song under the title " Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado" (translated "When I Return to Your Side"). Dinah Washington recorded a cover in 1959 and it received great acclaim. So much so that it earned a Grammy for Washington for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance. The band dives into the number with glee and McKenna is in full control while he works out some long interesting lines.
Throughout the remaining tracks, it is clear that the band is committed to a session that is full of appeal and aspiration. For example on "You've Changed," which has traditionally been given a ballad interpretation, the band floats a bluesy Latin vibe version that seems to fit perfectly with the song's original intention. Losito offers a fleet fingered solo that has an organized focus, while McKenna's warm and ample sound completes the picture.
Sometimes good things come in unexpected packages. This is one of them.
You're It; These Foolish Things; Blondie's Waltz; What A Difference A Day Makes; I'll Let You Know;
For Heavens Sake; Afternoon In Paris; You've Changed; Fried Pies.
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