Larry McKenna got to the gig early, as did I and many others who knew what gorgeous music we were about to hear, created right in front of us. He and Sam Taylor, both on tenor saxophone; Steve Ash, piano; Neal Miner, string bass; Fukushi Tainaka, drums, made castles of sound for us — two sets’ worth. And for those who live by clocks and calendars, Larry turned 82 on July 21, 2019. He’s not “spry”: he is in full flower right now. Consider the blossoming evidence of the first set at Smalls here.
(Incidentally, Larry and Danny Tobias have a little concert date on Sunday, September 21, at the 1867 Sanctuary in Ewing, New Jersey — details here.)
Now, for the second set at Smalls — beautiful playing by everyone!
SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE (as they used to say, “from the movie of the same name):
The lovely THERE’S NO YOU (hear a delighted woman in the audience say, “Oh, yeah!” once the melody registers):
The durable swing standard ROSETTA, which gives Sam a very touching opportunity to tell about his early and sustained connection with Larry:
MORE THAN YOU KNOW, a feature for Sam:
And to close, another song associated with Earl Hines [and Louis Armstrong and Lester Young!] its title a sweet reminder of the bonds we forge, YOU CAN DEPEND ON ME:
The sounds of this evening were completely gratifying, but what got to me — and you can see it in the videos — were the smiles on the musicians’ faces (echoed on the faces of people near me), expressions of gratitude, joy, and pride — what an honor it was to be there and, to hear the artistry, to feel the delight. How rare, how wonderful.
May your happiness increase!