So many kinds of tenor in the world….
This just in: A masterful “With Strings” project from Larry McKenna
Lots of us are going to be grieving the titanically inspired saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter for a long time. There’s been no figure like him in the history of improvised music.
But there are so many flavors of saxophone out there in the world — particularly tenor saxophone. I was reminded of this on a plane headed for a long-overdue vacation this week, listening to the consummate bop craftsman Larry McKenna’s new album World on a String.
It’s buoyant and joyful, a master class in the nearly lost art of melodic invention and deft, carefully threaded re-invention. It’s got familiar standards and little-played tunes that would be standards if played with McKenna’s easy-treading grace. The orchestrations, by Jack St. Clair, dwell mostly in plushness yet are occasionally spiked with chordal tension. There’s plenty more to say about this but really, as with the work of Wayne and so many others, words only hint at the elegant profundity of the sounds.