In case you haven't heard, Dave McKenna
is one of the most remarkable jazz pianists in the history of the music, further evidenced by this wonderful solo recording, taken from the original 1955 ABC-Paramount LP Solo Piano and the 1963 Realm release Lullabies in Jazz
's expertise in mixing the stride style into any jazz standard cannot be more fully demonstrated. The first 15 tracks are from the 1955 date, where his ability to swing and stretch out would be hard for anyone to match, much less exceed. There's only one original, the jazz-blues-bop jam "Blues Up." McKenna
waxes serene on three selections, is atypically delicate during "My Shining Hour," and mixes patient to animated tempos for "Limehouse Blues." On the rest, he plays consistent rhythms, especially effective on the bouncy "S'posin'," the dramatic intro before digging in for "'S Wonderful," and the uppity "Let's Get Away from It All." McKenna
's consistency in playing deft, accurate melodies and effortless stride is evident with every note and phrase. The remaining tracks are indeed lullabies and are lower key, ranging from the childlike "Brahms' Lullaby" to the darker "Deep Night," the somnambulant "Deep in a Dream," and the cute "Japanese Sandman." The anomalies are the bright, not at all weary original of McKenna
's "Sleepy Waltz" and the jaunty back-and-forth finale, "Sleep." While Lullabies
is thematic and stylized, it is far from reticent or boring. This is truly a beautiful document of a master at work, and is highly recommended, whether you are a staunch fan of McKenna
or hopefully a new convert.