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Dave McKenna

Primary Instrument: Piano

Born: May 30, 1930 | Died: October 18, 2008    

Dave McKenna

Dave McKenna is simply one of the legends of the jazz piano. He, of course, would probably disagree. “I don't know if I qualify as a bona-fide jazz guy,” he says. “I play saloon piano. I like to stay close to the melody.” His humility and laid-back personal style seem a contrast to the vibrant vitality of his masterful piano style. His range is truly extraordinary. One minute he is caressing a lovely ballad, the next he is thundering and rumbling through a high-powered rendition of I Found a New Baby.

Dave was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, into a musical family. His father William McKenna, a postman, played the drums part-time, and two sisters are singers. His mother, Catherine Reilly McKenna, was Dave's first piano teacher. In additions to being a good piano player, she was a fine violinist as a young woman. He also took lessons from Preston “Sandy” Sandiford in Boston, a fine piano teacher Dave liked very much. He explains that he developed his trademark left-handed bass style because “I wanted to hear something like what I heard on the records.”...
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    Dave McKenna and Buddy DeFranco: You Must Believe in Swing

    Concord Music Group
    1998
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    A Handful Of Stars

    Milestone Records
    1993
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    Live at the Maybeck Recital Hall Series vol.2

    Milestone Records
    1990
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    This Is The Moment

    Milestone Records
    1988
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    My Friend The Piano

    Milestone Records
    1987
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    Dancing In The Dark (And Other Music Of Arthur Schwartz)

    Milestone Records
    1986
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    Giant Strides

    Milestone Records
    1979
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Featured recording “Blues Up”

Latest Release

Blues Up

(2007)
”What other pianists choose to say in a roar, McKenna expresses at something just above a whisper. And while other virtuosos revel in the brilliance of their technique, McKenna very nearly takes pains to disguise his. He is Chopin in a world that reveres Liszt, Mozart in an age that worships Mahler.” Howard Reich - Chicago Tribune Arts Critic

“McKenna excels in his art. What is it that makes Dave so unique? His uncanny sense of time? His ability to sound like the entire Basie band? His penchant for resurrecting obscure but lovely ballads that deserve to be heard again? Or maybe it's the famous McKenna medleys that can go on for entire set without repetition...

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