A well-respected studio player, as well as having recorded with such jazz-studded groups as the Phil Norman Tenet and the Bill Watrous and Bob Florence big bands, trombone player Bob McChesney has chosen to honor the compositions of Steve Allen for his introductory album as a leader. The result is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the play list is comprised of tunes that aren't heard very often, with the exception of "Meet Me Where They Play the Blues." Given that Allen wrote more than 8,500 tunes, finding some that no one else plays is not all that difficult a task. The bad news is that since it is so easy to find Allen melodies that are rarely played, the chances are good that many aren't very satisfactory. Those tunes for which Allen is best known, "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" and "Impossible," are not here. But McChesney and his quartet do their best with what's available. McChesney is appropriately tender and romantic on "This Is Where We Came In." On "Meet Me Where They Play the Blues," McChesney kicks off in a tailgate gutbucket trombone style before segueing to a slap tongue, staccato mode followed by a high energy piano solo by Matt Harris. This is the album's top track. More explosive playing is found on a blues-tinged "Chittlins." McChesney has all the technical equipment and uses these skills well. However, limiting an album to the music of Steve Allen doesn't allow McChesney to demonstrate that he has a feel for the music, since much of this music is pretty shallow stuff. Hopefully for his next album, McChesney will come up with a musical agenda of tunes with greater substance, something that he can get his improvisational teeth into.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan