Larry McKenna

My Shining Hour: Larry McKenna Plays Harold Arlen

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As a recording artist, Larry McKenna was definitely a late bloomer. The tenor saxman had been a fixture on the Philadelphia jazz scene for decades, but sadly, he went unrecorded for much of his career. McKenna was in his 50s when he finally recorded his first studio date as a leader, and the CD's excellence pointed to the fact that he should have started recording 30 years earlier. Focusing on songs by the great pop composer Harold Arlen, McKenna offers the type of inspired, passionate hard bop that he'd been playing in Philly clubs for so long. Philadelphians who'd seen McKenna live greeted his studio versions of "Out of This World," "I've Got the World on a String" and "It's Only a Paper Moon" with high expectations, and the saxman clearly lives up to them. "Over the Rainbow" and "Come Rain or Come Shine" illustrate his excellence as a ballad player, while "Let's Fall In Love" gets a rare bossa nova makeover. My Shining Hour made one wish that McKenna (whose competent backing includes pianist/guitarist Bill Shilling, bassist Dom Mancini and drummer Butch Reed) would make up for lost time and start doing a lot more recording.

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