Born: May 30, 1930 | Died: October 18, 2008
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....
- Dave "Fingers" McKenna by Dave Nathan
- Dave McKenna and Buddy DeFranco: You Must Believe in Swing by C. Michael Bailey
- Christmas Ivory by Jim Santella
- Christmas Ivory by Robert Spencer
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...