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Dave McKenna 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.”

Dave began his career with Boots Mussulli Band, then left home to play with the Charlie Ventura band, followed by a stint with Woody Herman. After two years in the army, he returned to Charlie Ventura's band, then worked with Gene Krupa, Stan Getz, and Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. He often worked with Bobby Hackett, including some gigs at Eddie Condon's in Manhattan, playing what Hackett called “Whiskeyland Jazz.” Among Dave's biggest influences was Nat King Cole, who remains one of his favorites to this day.

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”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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Albums

Album Blues Up by Dave McKenna

Blues Up

Unknown label
2007

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Album Dave McKenna and Buddy DeFranco: You Must Believe in Swing by Dave McKenna

Dave McKenna and...

Concord Music Group
1998

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Christmas Ivory

Concord Music Group
1997

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A Handful Of Stars

Milestone Records
1993

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Live at the Maybeck...

Milestone Records
1990

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This Is The Moment

Milestone Records
1988

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