After 80 years of living in the same city, saxophonists Larry McKenna and Bootsie Barnes have finally recorded an album together! The More I See You is a recording of these legends playing some classic gems and originals the only way they know how – with that Philly flare.
Growing up mere miles from each other, these career musicians knew of each other, but didn’t play together until later in life. This album marks the first full recording as a duo, and the rest of the band is just as dynamic as the leaders – Lucas Brown plays the Hammond B-3 organ and Byron Landham is on drums. These fellow Philadelphian’s are the perfect companions to the respective styles of Larry and Bootsie.
“Their resumes are only a shadow of who these men are. To really know the true Larry McKenna and Bootsie Barnes, you have to meet them. They are as men just as their music sounds: giving, open, genuine and deeply funny. Working nearly every night, Barnes and McKenna are consistent, positive forces on the scene. Deeply admired by younger generations of musicians, they show us that a life in music should be lead with grace, joy and honesty.” – Sam Taylor
Bootsie Barnes has been a part of Philadelphia jazz legacy. He’s performed with just about every jazz organist including Don Patterson, Shirley Scott, Trudy Pitts, Bill Doggett, Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Charles Earland, Jimmy McGriff, and Papa and Joey DeFrancesco. He’s also shared the stage or recorded with: McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, the Heath Brothers, Stan Getz, Philly Joe Jones and countless other Philadelphia jazz masters who are bound together by the same thread. These giants played in their own way, without concern for style or labels. They had an attitude; an intention to their playing that gave the music a feeling, a rhythm, a deep pocket.
Bootsie Barnes credits his musical family as the spark that began his life in music. His father was an accomplished trumpet player and his cousin, Jimmy Hamilton was a member of Duke Ellington’s band for nearly three decades. “Palling around with my stablemates, Tootie Heath, Lee Morgan, Lex Humphries” as he tells it, Barnes began on piano and drums. At age nineteen he was given a saxophone by his grandmother and “knew he had found his niche.” Over the course of his decades long career, Barnes has performed and toured with Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Smith, Trudy Pitts and countless others, with five recordings under his own name and dozens as a sideman.
Mostly self-taught, Larry McKenna was deeply inspired by his older brother’s LP collection. It was a side of Jazz at The Philharmonic 1947 featuring Illinois Jacquet and Flip Fillips that opened his ears to jazz. “When I heard that I immediately said: “That’s what I want to play, the saxophone,” McKenna recalls. Completing high school, McKenna worked around Philadelphia and along the East Coast until the age of twenty-one, when his first big break came with Woody Herman’s Big Band. McKenna has played and recorded with Clark Terry, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, and countless others. He has four recordings under his own name, with extensive credits as a sideman. Larry’s writing and arranging skills are further showcased by the Larry McKenna Jazz Orchestra, a 17-piece band dedicated to presenting Larry’s original compositions and arrangements.