Dave McKenna

Double Play: No Bass Hit/Major League

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Double Play: No Bass Hit/Major League Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Concord greatly enriched the revival of more traditional forms of jazz in the 1970s and 1980s when they bought together established players like pianist Dave McKenna and drummer Jake Hanna with new kids on the block like tenor Scott Hamilton. This bassless trio recorded No Bass Hit in 1979, then returned for an encore with Major League in 1986. The two-disc set Double Play re-introduces both titles while keeping the baseball metaphor intact. Quiet standards by the Gershwins and Cole Porter trade places with up-tempo delights like Gene Krupa and Roy Eldridge's "Drum Boogie." One might imagine missing the steady beat of the bass, but a cursory listen to "Easy to Love" verifies that this isn't the case. McKenna plays chords with one hand while keeping a steady bass rhythm with the other, assuring a solid beat even when he's playing lead. The band swings with vim and vigor on "Swinging at the Copper Rail" and "It All Depends on You," while offering relaxed versions of "I'm Through With Love" and "This Is All I Ask." Part of the joy of this band is their versatility, with Hamilton and McKenna exchanging lead lines or with Hanna kicking off a song with a snazzy drum roll. Double Play offers an hour and a half of excellent mainstream jazz and serves as a fine addition to the works of all the players involved.

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