Rob McConnellView in iTunes
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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 section, and emphasized pop music. Although it added a saxophone section in 1971, Boss Brass did not record much jazz until 1976. Comprised of many of Toronto's top musicians (including Sam Noto, Guido Basso, Ian McDougall, Moe Koffman, Eugene Amaro, Rick Wilkins, Ed Bickert, Don Thompson, and Terry Clarke, among others), the orchestra mostly plays McConnell's swinging but surprising charts. For a period in the late '80s, McConnell moved to Los Angeles and the group broke up, but by 1991, it was back together again. Rob McConnell, who also cut a few small-group dates for Concord, recorded with his Boss Brass for Pausa, MPS, Dark Orchid, Innovation, and Concord. He died of cancer in Toronto on May 1, 2010. ~ Scott Yanow