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Entries in Larry McKenna (2)





Recently we have been having many requests from many friends and fans of Joe Fortunato for a recording of a popular song from

The American Songbook entitled “Out of Nowhere”

 >>   May 5, 1930 - October 28, 2011  <<

As a Memorial Tribute . . . I have located this recording plus various instrumental tracks recorded from a local Philadelphia studio . . . that was never released publicly, but was always requested at every club date and live performance from Joe Fortunato.  

The sharing of this duo recording by Joe Fortunato & Lou Gagliardi by exemplifies his soulful approach to the tenor saxophone with the tasteful guitar accompaniment of longtime friend Lou Gagliardi.




STAN ROSS - SAXOPHONIST **** Memorable Moments

 Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis & Julian "Cannonball' Adderley

Stan RossIn my recent conversation with my friend saxophonist Stan Ross, I asked him to recall his admiration for saxophonist Stan Getz plus some other moments in his career when he shared the bandstand with Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis & Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. As we spoke in a relaxed atmosphere, I found that our conversation was very informative when Stan began reflecting upon his experiences with the both of them. As we spoke extensively, in addition . . . he also talked more about his meetings and sharing the bandstand with our mutual friend Larry McKenna.

“My admiration for Getz went beyond his musical pre eminence. I read as much about the man as I could get my hands on, a truly unique, deserving and colorful career. I was disappointed when Hollywood's Clint Eastwood leaned "politically correct" and made a movie eulogizing Charlie Parker called "Bird." Stan Getz's life was much more dramatic...from adolescent prodigy to early icon.

One example: Stan Getz nearly succumbing to a lung infection and while recuperating in Africa, he was skin diving to the point of exhaustion, trying to strengthen his lungs; he met the famous actress Donna Reed while she was filming a movie “Beyond Mombasa” in that location.”  

He was disillusioned with the music business in the States; Stan Getz expatriated to Denmark and naturally became the house attraction at the famed Cafe Montmarte in Copenhagen. For unexplainable reasons, curiosity and desperation being two, I arrived there on my own a few years after he returned to America. The featured player at Cafe Montmarte was now Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis; famed Jazz saxophonist extraordinaire. I introduced myself to him on his break and without me asking, he graciously said, "get your ax man and sit in." I will never forget exaltation. Here I am on the bandstand with a jazz legend blowing chorus after chorus of "What is this thing called love," trading fours and licks and desperately holding my own. A primary virtue of an artist such as, Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis . . .  is to have a style, which is immediately recognized because he sounded like no one else . . . and you know that was "Jaws."  He could cook and it took no effort; and you recognized that aggressive sound immediately. I was overwhelmed by this fortuitous experience and yet felt a deep and gelid realization that I would never progress to this pinnacle.”

In addition Stan continued to recall; “about a year later I found myself next to another jazz icon; "Cannonball" Adderley at the popular "Showboat Jazz Club" in Philadelphia. I was back studying with the "Maestro" Dennis Sandole; he and Cannonball were long time friends. While visiting him at his studio, Dennis mentioned my name to him and the famous virtuoso said, "Tell him to stop in and sit in a couple of sets." Once again, I found myself in the professional's domain. Soloing with his brother Nat and saxophonist Yuseff Latiff, every ingredient blended to perfection, the rhythm section, sound, arrangements and of course the players. This is it Stan; you are in the arena, the big time. At times, I actually felt as though I would wake up in a cold sweat and this was a dream. Despite my awe and ecstasy, it was not as exciting as cooking next to "Jaws" because there were no arrangements or pattern to follow; just "cookin'" one to one.

“I guess the left hook that finally knocked me out was meeting Larry McKenna; I had heard so much about him. He and his quartet were appearing at a new supper club in the area. His reputation was in tune, he could play with technique, sound, and creativity all there. The influence of the 50's tenor sound was there but his talent transcended to originality; again, the mark of a professional and his benign demeanor augmented that. I sat in with Larry and after the break; he called me back to the stand for another set, once again a personal "high!" - Over the years, Larry has recorded albums and generated a huge following of fans within the Tri-State area of Philadelphia. Stan also talked about another favorite saxman Lee Allen. The Billboard Instrumental hit recording (1958) named "Walking With Mr. Lee" was also a favorite of mine. Since I have been visiting New Orleans in the past, I had the opportunity to visit J & M Studio located on Rampart Street in the French Quarter, this is where a majority of the hits were recorded during the early days of Rhythm & Blues, Soul and Jazz. In the near future I will feature a post on New Orleans. 

After various successful promotions of “The Battle Of The Saxes” which was started in the early 1970’s. Ray Fern, Joe Fortunato, Stan Ross and myself were known as the “Philadelphia Four Brothers”

Later the saxophones of Larry McKenna, Joe Fortunato, Bobby Borda, Dick Noble and myself made our last performance at the famous Palumbo’s Restaurant on September 30, 1991. I can recall that most of our fans still remember the enjoyable evening of HouseRockin’ sounds of the saxes and swingin’ rhythm section of The Johnny Saint All-Stars – which designated a stellar performance of

“It Don’t Mean A Thing! If . . . It Ain’t Got That Swing!”