First, some dazzling sonic evidence. McKenna plays Ellington:

and then he becomes a cosmically swinging GPS, guiding us through STREETS:

Dave at Newport 1970 (saluting Louis)

Dave McKenna was Bobby Hackett’s favorite pianist; Bill Evans said he had all of Dave’s albums. What Mike Jones calls a “constant inventiveness,” merging the ferocity of the 1938 Basie band with the traceries of the most delicate impressionism — in full orchestral vigor and subtlety — McKenna could do in three minutes, or in thirty.

It’s rare that a jazz documentary — as opposed to a documentary about jazz — succeeds as well as this one has. It doesn’t force the details of McKenna’s life into a stereotypical story; it neatly balances the first-hand reminiscences of those on the scene (Dave’s sister Jean, the notable jazz figures Hank O’Neal and Ron Della Chiesa, Dave’s sons, pianist Mike Jones) with the music. The sounds coming from Dave at the piano (and occasionally from his two interviews) complement each other, beautifully. All praise to director / producer Greg Mallozzi and executive producer Corte Swearingen.

You can see it here.

Thanks for the memories. And the melodies linger on.

May your happiness increase!

5 responses to ““THE KEY MAN: DAVE McKENNA”

  1. Thanks for making this available. I remember when Greg had just started the project a few years ago and it first aired in New England recently but many of us here weren’t able to see it. As much as I’ve known about Dave and his family there’s always more out there. I loved hearing and seeing Dave eat his way through Italia and socking it to Romano !

  2. I remember “ The syncopated Times “as a Dixieland music lovers dream for info on the Dixieland musicians. But it disappeared. Will you also write about Dixieland? Ben Wilson

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  3. Thank you SO much for posting this. I really wasn’t that aware of Dave McKenna, but after finding this, and going through several other YouTube videos, I sure am now! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. I have good news for you — THE SYNCOPATED TIMES continues to flourish, which is why I continue to run an advertisement for it at the end of every post. As to writing “about Dixieland,” I am no longer sure what that term means, but I write about all kinds of hot, lyrical, swinging jazz. I would bet you can find some music you will enjoy here. Or your money back!

  5. That nice “Streets” set led me straight to listening through the obscure “Lullabies in Jazz” album for Realm, which is practically a medley, too. His remarks about digging into the old songs — “and they’re good” — also indicates how he cherished and presented the material.

    Thank you, Michael.

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