Arts Desk

Mourning the Other Dave McKenna

That's right—the other Dave McKenna.

For years, whether in print or on the web, adoring City Paper readers have hearkened to the mellifluous prose of D.C.'s Dave McKenna—his rhapsodic treatment of Pop Warner football, his scherzo-like political musings, his epic riffs on the Dan Synder perplex.

Turns out he's not the only D. Mac around.

On Saturday, jazz geeks learned that Dave McKenna, the great Massachusetts ballad-boogie pianist, had died of lung cancer at the age of 78. In its obit, the New York Times included a nice encomium on his instrumental approach:

That style, rooted in the jazz piano tradition of an earlier era, was built around powerful bass lines, elegantly voiced chords and a loving approach to melodies, especially those of the Tin Pan Alley standards that were the foundation of his vast repertory. He liked to spin out long medleys united by a theme, like famous and obscure songs with “You,” “Stars” or “Spring” in the title.

“I don’t know if I qualify as a bona fide jazz guy,” he once said. “I play saloon piano. I like to stay close to the melody.”

See for yourself in the video below ("Serenade in Blue"). Touching stuff, but not exactly the musical equivalent of eviscerating Lou Dobbs.

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