Larry McKenna

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.

Although you can hear exceptional jazz on WRTI 90.1 every night and 24/7 online on our jazz stream, April is a time for a special focus on this classic American art form. Join us for great music and unique features as we mark Jazz Appreciation Month.

Long hailed as one of the world’s finest tenor sax players, Larry McKenna possesses a fluid sound enhanced by bebop-inspired improvisations that has been embraced by jazz fans for over five decades.

April 8, 2019. Raised in Spanish Harlem, singer/songwriter and guitarist Lili Añel has always remained connected to, but never bound by, musical roots in Latin jazz. That Añel’s output over the past two-plus decades has been, progressively, more and more musically diverse is a testament to this.

Big News! WRTI is excited to join VuHaus (pronounced VIEW House), public media’s music discovery video platform—a growing network of public radio music stations and public TV stations that share a common mission to support emerging, established, and local artists.

Melissa Gilstrap

Tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna is a Philadelphia legend, but the reach of his playing extends well past his hometown. Perhaps that’s why you’ve voted him our No.7 Essential Artist.

Two great sax players were born on the same day, just three years apart. On February 2nd, 1924, Sonny Stitt was born in Boston, and Stan Getz made his first appearance in Philadelphia on the same day in 1927. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, each had his own style that would influence future generations.

Larry McKenna: Philadelphia's Gentleman of Jazz

Dec 31, 2014
Melissa Gilstrap

Saxophonist player and instructor Larry McKenna has instilled his love and connection with his instrument in listeners and learners alike over the course of his multi–decade long career. Despite being the consistent recipient of praise from fans and former students alike, McKenna remains humble enough to seem vaguely bewildered when confronted with it.

This reaction may result from how naturally McKenna "clicked" with his instrument. McKenna first took an interest in the sax when he was just 14 - an age when whims tend to be as fleeting as they are intense.

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