Bootsie Barnes & Larry McKenna – The More I See You – CellarLive CL050718 62:41****:
(Larry McKenna & Bootsie Barnes – tenor saxophones; Lucas Brown – Hammond B3 organ; Byron “Wookie” Landham – drums)
Over the years, there have been many jazz musicians from Philadelphia who have gained bold face recognition for their craft such as Benny Golson, Clifford Brown, John Coltrane and Christian McBride. There have also been many others who have worked diligently, played with conviction and purpose, yet did not obtain much acknowledgement beyond their Philly environment. Such may be said for tenor saxophonists Larry McKenna and Bootsie Barnes.
In this new release from CellarLive entitled The More I See You, Barnes and McKenna bring a lifetime of experience and dedication to their playing which provides the listener with musical experience that is full of exuberance and confidence. The session opens with the title track “The More I See You” with the two tenors rifling off one another through the unison introduction. Each follow with extensive solos in a lusty groove which shows their depth and understanding of the number. Organist Lucas Brown takes a full swing in his solo spot and helps to bring intensity to the number.
As a listener works their way through the album with liner notes in hand, it is useful to bear in mind that Bootsie Barnes is heard mostly through the left channel on your stereo or headphones, and McKenna through the right. There is a better indicator on the track “Three Miles Out” an original from Bootsie Barnes. The liner notes writer Sam Taylor, indicates that on this track Barnes solo’s first and has a “buttery” round tone, while McKenna who follows, has a more powerful strong tone. Bear these descriptions in mind when listening to the other tracks in addition to the left/right channel designations.
Henry Mancini and Jay Livingston wrote“Mr. Lucky” for the 1959 TV series of the same name. While it has been covered many times by a variety of musicians and groups, the perky theme always seems to strike a redolent chord. McKenna and Barnes use the number as a frame for a full blown exploration of its melodic line through which each player cuts his own distinctive path.
McKenna and Barnes are given extended solo turns on two tracks; firstly McKenna on “You Changed” ( which should in fact read You’ve Changed) and then Barnes on “My Ship”. On the McKenna outing, the saxophonist slips into ballad mode with a ruminative and sensitive take on the number. Brown’s organ support is understated yet articulate. Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin wrote “My Ship” for the 1941 Broadway musical Lady In The Dark. Bootsie Barnes gives number a moderate swinging lilt that works quite well with his big and thoughtful sound.
The closing track is a Larry McKenna original “Don’t Redux The Reflux” which opens with several choruses of harmonic unison playing. The number is filled with self assured playing from both tenors that speaks to their years of their experience.
The More I See You
For Minor’s Only
Three Miles Out
Sunday In New York
The Break Through
Don’t Redux The Reflux