A new documentary film tells the life story of jazz pianist Dave McKenna.
Directed by Greg Mallozzi, The Key Man: Dave McKenna is currently streaming on Quincy Jones’s Qwest TV.
Born and raised in Rhode Island, McKenna began his career in Charlie Ventura’s orchestra and over the years played with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Zoot Sims, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa and Stan Getz.
Throughout his career, McKenna was largely known as a solo pianist with superlative improvisational technique and a signature style known as “three-handed swing.” He recorded 15 albums as a leader, plus more as a side player with Ed Bickert, Urbie Green, Zoot Sims and others.
“It is because the documentary subtly sketches the enigmatic side of the personality of Dave McKenna that we understand why his modesty, his shyness, his fondness for drink, his desire to play in clubs rather than on long tours meant that he never achieved the notoriety he deserved,” reads a synopsis of the film.