Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass

Play the Jazz Classics

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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden

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.

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