Bootsie Barnes

Anthony Dean

(Note: this profile was written prior to the passing of Mr. Barnes in April, 2020) Tenor giant Bootsie Barnes has been the epitome of a “Hometown Hero” for most of his 82 years. He’s never left the city, instead becoming a cornerstone of the Philadelphia jazz scene, remaining constant even as styles and generations changed around him.

Melissa Gilstrap

Hailed as one of the world’s finest jazz saxophone players, Larry McKenna is firmly rooted in his Philadelphia birthplace where he has spent over six decades showcasing a gorgeous tenor saxophone sound.

Courtesy of the artist

Organist Lucas Brown is a jazz and classical performing artist, composer, and educator who, with his eponymous septet, incorporates the openness of music into his playing while simultaneously moving into the future.

During a recent interview, saxophone great Larry Mckenna was right on target when he shared that often in other cities, when people found out he was from Philadelphia, they’d ask him if he knew fellow Philadelphia  saxophone great Bootsie Barnes. 

Bootsie Barnes, a tenor saxophonist and bandleader who set a rigorous standard for hard bop, presiding as a master and mentor in his hometown of Philadelphia, died on Wednesday at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pa. He was 82.

We are so sad to report that Philadelphia jazz legend, Robert "Bootsie" Barnes—tenor sax player extraordinaire—passed this morning of COVID-19 at age 82. "The man with the tenor touch," he was beloved by so many in our jazz community and beyond. Read obituary here.

Our Jazz Appreciation Month celebration continues during the week of April 20th by shining the spotlight on artists right here in our region. Our jazz hosts present their favorite recordings from a local jazz artist each night at 7 pm, 9:30 pm 12:30 am, and 5:30 am.

Bob Craig, Zivit, Bob Perkins, Jeff Duperon, Maureen Malloy and J. Michael Harrison have some great tunes cued up for you! Here are some of their favorites:

1. Jeff Duperon: Orrin Evans - Don't Fall Off the L.E.J - Captain Black