Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Dave McKenna

Dr. Bob Prescribes Dave McKenna

If you are among those who just said “Dave who?”, THIS IS YOUR LUCKY DAY! I am about to offer up a gift more lasting, more aesthetically pleasing and more spiritually enlightening than any you have likely received during this “season of getting”. That gift? The pianism of Dave McKenna. Indulge me some first-person info. Along with untold millions of others of my generation, as a little shaver I took piano lessons. By the time I was thirteen I could play a handful of Beethoven Sonatas, Bach’s Two and Three-Part Inventions, some Mozart, Chopin, Schubert, Schumann, etc., etc. But: with my puberty entering hyperdrive, I became bored with the “classics”, and while I spent a good bit of time writing my own, primarily rock ‘n’ roll flavored ditties, I stopped practicing the piano (and my parents subsequently cut off the lessons). And then I was hit by a bolt of musical lightning, my epiphany, a life changer: at the age of 14, I discovered jazz. Here was a music with all the rhythmic intensity of rock ‘n’ roll but magnified – to my ear, a gazillion fold – by the polyrhythmic magic that is swing. I was gob-smacked by its […]

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New Jazz Appreciation Series

As a young’un, I played the usual instructional piano stuff, starting with the then ubiquitous pedagogic set by John Thompson, red-covered piano books beginning with a series called “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” and then moved on to “John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano.” By the time I was fourteen I could play a handful of Beethoven Sonatas, Bach’s Two and Three-Part Inventions, some Chopin and Schubert, a batch of Romantic fluff, and blah blah blah. Truth be told, I was bored with the “classics”, and while I spent a good bit of time writing my own, primarily rock ‘n’ roll flavored ditties, I stopped practicing the piano. And then I was hit by the bolt from the blue, my epiphany, my life changer: at the age of 14, I discovered jazz. Here was a music with all the rhythmic intensity of rock ‘n’ roll but magnified – to my ear, a gazillion fold – by the polyrhythmic magic that is swing. I was gob-smacked by the harmonic complexity of jazz , by its melodic sophistication, its discipline, its conversational nature and its freedom from the printed page. I began practicing the piano again and by the time I […]

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