Pianist delivers vintage tunes

01/23/2014

Many of the songs on Jacqueline Schwab’s album of Mark Twain-era songs, arranged for Ken Burns’s documentary about the famed writer, are spirituals or other tunes traditionally accompanied by lyrics. But Ms. Schwab, who will play a selection of those songs as well as tunes from her new album, True Blue Waltz, at the Dance Palace Community and Cultural Center next week, offers unaccompanied interpretations on piano that convey their pathos without the aid of vocals. Her website describes her “spare, elegiac” playing, and her versions of works like “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” a traditional slavery-era spiritual, lets lingering notes and brief pauses speak just as prominently as the melody itself. Ms. Schwab, a relative of West Marin Review editor Doris Ober, is a pianist well known for her work for a number of Ken Burns’s P.B.S. documentaries, including Baseball, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and The Civil War, which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 1992. She will play at the Dance Palace on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20, $18 for seniors and $10 for youth. For information visit dancepalace.org.