Dave McKenna made a remarkably piano solo debut in 1955 with the fifteen tunes he recorded for ABC Paramount (1-15). The remaining tracks on this compilation also come from a solo album, one he cut almost eight years later for the label Realm. Playing without a rhythm section, a key challenge for a jazz pianist, McKenna accomplished a recital of lasting value and pleasure. He plays with strength, individuality, fine beat and technique, and constant taste in all tempos. He is a wonderfully co-ordinated two-handed pianist.
A unique dual piano session from Dave McKenna and Hal Overton – and one that's nicely free of any sense of gimmick or cliche! The pair work together in a really loose, personal style – one that has the upfront push of a jazz trio date, but which also allows each musician room to express themselves differently – as you'd expect, given their slightly different approaches. Rhythm is from Earl May on bass and Jerry Segal on drums – and titles include "Monk's Mood", "Keeping Out Of Mischief", "Dizzy Atmosphere", "Ruby My Dear", and a great reading of "Hi Fly".
For one of violinist Joe Venuti's final recording sessions, he engages in a set of duets with the talented swing pianist Dave McKenna. The original LP had a dozen performances and the reissue CD adds seven more. In addition to the usual standards, there are several Dixieland tunes (including three versions of "At the Jazz Band Ball") and four Venuti originals. McKenna (with his rolling basslines) was a perfect partner for the violinist, making this set one of the best of Venuti's later years.
The 1987 edition of the Brubeck Quartet featured pianist Brubeck, his son Chris on electric bass and bass trombone, clarinetist Bill Smith and drummer Randy Jones. In addition to remakes of "Blue Rondo à la Turk," "Strange Meadowlark" and "Swing Bells," the leader contributed six new originals including "I See, Satie" and a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz called "Dizzy's Dream." Bill Smith, who uses electronics with taste on his clarinet during a few songs, has long been a major asset to the later Brubeck Quartets. This is one of their better Concord CDs.
For this entry in Dave Brubeck's series of Time albums, his Quartet with altoist Paul Desmond performs "Elementals" with an orchestra and plays five briefer originals including four that have unusual time signatures; "World's Fair" is in 13/4 time.