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Play The Jazz Classics

Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass

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Album Review

One of the final recordings by Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass for Concord, this pair of sessions focuses on favorite standards and timeless jazz compositions, with most of the arrangements by the leader, a fine valve trombonist to boot. Among the standards is a lively, typically Latin-flavored setting of "Invitation" and a lush treatment of "Autumn in New York" showcasing altoist John Johnson. The remainder of the disc focuses on works by jazz composers. McConnell shines in the gently swinging take of Dave Brubeck's "The Duke," while Horace Silver's "Peace" and Blue Mitchell's "Blue Silver" make up an intriguing medley. Guitarist Ed Bickert and tenorist Rick Wilkins are featured in a richly textured chart of "Pensativa," which was arranged by Wilkins. The dramatic setting of Billy Strayhorn's "Day Dream" contrasts with the playful take of Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," with the latter song briefly detouring into Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You." The recording wraps with a thoughtful salute to Count Basie by playing a deliberate rendition of Neal Hefti's "Li'l Darlin'," which became a signature tune for Basie not long after it was released.


Born: 14 February 1935 in London, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Although it was usually a part-time venture (working maybe 30 days a year, counting an annual recording), Rob McConnell's Boss Brass was one of the finest big bands of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. An excellent soloist, McConnell played valve trombone in Toronto (both in the studios and in jazz settings) for a long time. During 1965-1969, he was in Nimmons 'n' Nine Plus Six (led by Phil Nimmons) and in 1968 formed Boss Brass. Originally, the group was comprised entirely of brass instruments, plus a rhythm...
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