Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass tackle a mostly blues-oriented program for these 1996 sessions, with five originals by the leader, in addition to tunes by others. "Even Canadians Get the Blues" is a lively shout-type tune in the mold of Woody Herman's big band showcasing trumpeter Steve McDade and tenor saxophonist Alex Dean. While "The Clarinet Is Black and Blue" isn't technically a blues, it has a bluesy air, with Moe Koffman's melancholy clarinet backed by the lush ensembles, which often include a choir of four additional clarinets. Boss Brass alum Ian McDougall contributed the breezy blues "Do You Mean It?," which puts the spotlight on pianist Dave Restivo, flügelhornist John McLeod, and alto saxophonist John Johnson. The upbeat "The Shuffle Boogie Swamp Groove Blue" adds guest Doug Riley on organ, while the date closes with a brief, lush rendition of the Canadian National Anthem, "O Canada." McConnell's liner notes are often amusing, as is his cover photo pose as a drunken Canadian Mountie passed out draped over a piano.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden