Dave McKenna: Theodore The Thumper


Theodore The Thumper


Dave McKenna (piano)


Easy Street (Concord 4657)

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Dave McKenna (piano).

Composed by Dave McKenna


Recorded: New York, May 6 and 18, 1994


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Dave McKenna, who died on October 18, 2008, at age 78, wrote two tunes for Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame outfielder, namely "Splendid Splinter" and "Theodore the Thumper." A huge Red Sox fan, McKenna no doubt surpassed fellow pianist and Chicago Cubs fan Jim McNeely (see my review of his "Ernie Banks") with the intensity of his obsession. While performing at piano bars in Boston and vicinity, McKenna often kept a radio at low volume atop the piano, and insisted wherever possible that the piano be positioned so that he could see at least one TV screen when a game was airing. McKenna's death was even announced during the radio broadcast of the Boston-Tampa Bay playoff game the day after he died.

How fitting it was that Ted Williams, one of the greatest left-handed hitters in baseball history, was so revered by McKenna, who possessed one of the greatest left hands of any pianist to ever play jazz. On the charming "Theodore the Thumper," an airy, good-natured theme along the lines of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," McKenna's awesome technique can be readily admired. Sounding like two or even three piano players, he uses an intricate maneuver that allows him to simultaneously play chords and execute basslines with his left hand. He also similarly splits the duties of his right hand, so that he sometimes plays chords on top of the melody or variations thereof. McKenna's powerful rhythmic momentum and harmonic density are as usual unforgettable and irresistible.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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