The late Dave McKenna (1930-2008) belonged to a group of pianists that include Ralph Sutton (1922-2001), Dick Wellstood (1927-1987) and the very much alive Dick Hyman. These are durable, traditional jazz pianists, well-versed in stride, with enormous genre and technical vocabularies. McKenna recorded many enjoyable discs for the Concord and Arbors labels and deserves the acknowledgement Joe Holt gives him on In The Spirit of Dave McKenna.
Holt, a native of Chestertown, MD, is a music educator and therapist. His approach is reverent without rank imitation. On "C Jam Blues," Holt demonstrates a sure left hand, like McKenna's, walking all over the place. Holt enjoys peppering his performances with quotes from other music, deftly interpolating a bit of Jeremiah Clark's Trumpet Voluntary into "Pick Yourself Up" while seasoning "Sweet Georgia Brown" with a heap o' blues. "These Foolish Things" demonstrates Holt's command of the ballad, while a lengthy "Fly Me To The Moon" extracts all of that composition's counterpoint in a waltz setting.
But, it is the up-tempo burners like "C Jam Blues," the slow simmering "Hello My Baby" and novelty tunes including "Easter Parade" that show Holt'sand by extension McKenna'sdeep talent for both song selection and interpretation. This is jazz music that will never go out of fashion because of its secure place in the mainstream. Holt reveals his talent as thoughtfully as he treats the musical corpus of this homage's object.
Track Listing: I've Got Rhythm; Pick Yourself Up; Ain't Misbehavin'; Sweet Georgia
Brown; These Foolish Things; C Jam Blues; Hello My Baby; Fly Me to the
Moon; Tenderly; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Surrey With the Fringe On
Top; S'wonderful; Easter Parade; Where Is Love?; Get Me to the Church On