Larry McKenna

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.

On Monday, February 2, 2015, WRTI's Bob Perkins celebrates these two jazz greats with a special show. 

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.

Melissa Gilstrap

Here in Philly, whenever someone needs a tenor sax player, the first call is to jazz great Larry McKenna. It's been that way for so long that most know his number by heart. And it's not just jazz bands that make that call.

It was that way when he backed Sinatra at the Latin Casino; when he was part of the "MFSB Orchestra" for Gamble and Huff backing Patti LaBelle, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and other Philly greats; when director Alan Parker needed music and a player for the Nicholas Cage film, Birdy, and many other instances.