About This Website
Dave McKenna was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on May 30th, 1930 and passed away on October 18th, 2008 at the age of 78. He was considered one of the world’s greatest pianists, yet many people, even today, have never heard of McKenna. This is one of the reasons this website was put together. Most of the live concerts in the ‘Listen’ area have come from the private recording collection of Scott MacKenzie. Scott followed Dave around the country for the last ten years of Dave’s career, recording him in many different venues and we have him to thank for these wonderful recordings. I first heard the phrase “Piano’s Most Valuable Player" from Scott.
I discovered Dave’s music back in 1991 when, quite by accident, I happened across the CD “My Friend the Piano.” I had been listening to solo pianists for years, including Oscar Petersen, George Shearing, Bill Evans and others, but I had never heard of Dave McKenna. How good could this guy be? I put the CD in the player and pressed the play button. The first tune came on – Margie. It started off slow and simple. As Dave progressed through the piece, he gradually built up steam to the point that I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. By the end, I was hooked. Dave’s piano playing became an obsession that continues to this day – almost 25 years after I first heard that tune Margie.
I spent several months combing through the Chicago papers trying to see if Dave would be playing anywhere in the area. This was before the Internet, so it was challenging trying to track down a venue where I could hear him live. Finally, one morning, I found it. A small ad in a Chicago paper listing Dave as coming to perform a set for one afternoon only at the legendary Green Mill Lounge in downtown Chicago. That concert took place on 9/15/1991 and that is where I first met Dave and the person responsible for bringing him to Chicago – Scott MacKenzie.
As an amateur pianist, I had been waiting for the opportunity to question Dave on his technique and perhaps learn some ‘secrets’ from the master. To that end, I was delighted to be invited to dinner with Dave the night of June 23rd, 1995. It was a small private gathering and Dave sat immediately to my right. During the course of the next hour, I peppered him with all sorts of questions – how did he develop his walking bass style? What was the thought process for developing his chord voicings? How exactly did he accomplish his ‘Three-handed’ playing technique? Dave’s reply to all of my questions was basically the same - a simple shrug of his shoulders, perhaps a sentence or two of response, and then a skillful segue back to the Boston Red Sox. I thought he was being evasive, but as the evening wore on, I realized this was not the case. Dave really didn’t know the answers to my questions. He wasn’t a technician – he simply placed his hands on the keys and played – and what extraordinary playing it was!
I wish to thank the late Scott MacKenzie (who passed away on 9/7/15), whose 300+ private cassette collection allowed me to create this site and offer it to everyone at no charge. I wish to also thank Rick Pollak for his technical assistance, guidance and friendship as well as the late John Stallmann, a friend who loved to share his Dave Mckenna recordings to anyone that would listen. Finally, I want to thank Dave's sons Steve and Doug, who have been very encouraging and supportive throughout the development of this site.
With time, this site will represent the largest cache of McKenna material available in the world. Please help get the word out by leaving comments, linking to the site, and sharing as much material as possible via your favorite social networks.
And please…..come often and listen to piano’s most valuable player – Dave McKenna! The site is, and will always remain, 100% free.
- Corte Swearingen, Webmaster & Avid McKenna Fan
For information on Dave McKenna recordings and memorabilia for purchase, please contact Doug McKenna at 910-933-4235 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.