Dave McKenna In Madison

Dave McKenna In MadisonDave McKenna (1930-2008) had a piano style that was difficult to resist. When he played hard-swinging pieces, his left hand’s urgent bass lines lifted up the bandstand. He had an admirable knowledge of American popular music and could improvise medleys comprised of related (or occasionally unrelated) songs on the spot, never losing his way or becoming hesitant. His playing was consistently joyous, even at slower tempos, and he sounded quite individual.

Fortunately Dave McKenna recorded a lot during 1973-2002 for Chiaroscuro, Concord, and Arbors so there is no shortage of his work on CDs. Still, it has been some time since a previously unissued session has come out, making one grateful for Arbor’s Dave McKenna In Madison.

Hot Jazz Jubile

The otherwise informative liner notes do not tell the precise date of this set but it could be from 1991 or shortly after. Performing at Farley’s House Of Pianos in Madison, Wisconsin, McKenna shows that he was very much an orchestra by himself. In addition to “Too Marvelous For Words,” Charlie Parker’s “Crazeology,” “Exactly Like You,” “Detour Ahead,” and a combination of “You’re Driving Me Crazy” and “Moten Swing,” McKenna creates three spontaneous medleys. He ties together six Vernon Duke songs (including the obscure “The Likes Of You”), makes up a medley of two different songs called “Soon” and “Rose Room,” and mixes together four tunes that have the word “Time” in their titles.

The music is well recorded and Dave McKenna is heard throughout in inventive and swinging form. This is a happy release.

Dave McKenna In Madison
(Arbors ARCD 19467, 8 selections, TT = 62:37) www.arborsrecords.com


Scott Yanow

Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for AllMusic.com. He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

Or look at our Subscription Options.