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An Intimate Evening with Dave McKenna

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Album Review

It may seem odd to those unfamiliar with jazz trends, but a swing musician could find more receptive audiences and record labels soon after the turn of the millennium than he or she could a quarter century previously. Pianist Dave McKenna is a case in point. Although he's been playing and playing well since the '40s, he hit his stride in the late '70s recording a long string of albums for Concord. An Intimate Evening captures McKenna live and solo at the Sarasota Opera House in Sarasota, FL. This stripped-down approach on a number of classic tunes allows the listener to isolate the melodic and rhythmic qualities that make the pianist's playing so full-bodied. Three of the selections are divided into mini-suites, allowing McKenna to circle around themes. "Street Melody" makes stops at "Broadway," "Easy Street," "42nd Street," "Beale Street Blues," and a couple of other streets before clocking in at an impressive 26-minutes. McKenna even expands and develops "Tea for Two," bringing a new maturity to the piece in a seven-minute rendition. From the opener, "Fidgety Feet," to the suitable closer, "It's the Last Dance," McKenna never forgets the power of a lovely melody to convey emotional warmth. An Intimate Evening delivers on its promise, offering fans, aspiring pianists, and classic jazz lovers 50 minutes of expressive swing. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., Rovi


Born: 30 May 1930 in Woonsocket, RI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the top swing-based pianists of the past 25 years, Dave McKenna's hard-driving basslines give momentum to uptempo pieces, and his vast knowledge of superior songs from the 1930s has resulted in many rewarding albums of traditional but fresh music. Although talented from the start, McKenna did not achieve that much recognition until he was already in his forties. He joined the Musicians' Union when he was 15 and picked up early experience playing with Boots Mussulli (1947), Charlie Ventura...
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