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 maiden album as a leader. This means that there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the play list is comprised of tunes which one doesn't hear all that often, with the exception of "Meet Me where They Play the Blues". Given that Allen wrote more than 8500 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 pretty good many aren't all that interesting. Two tunes for which Allen is especially know for, "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" and "Impossible" are not here. But McChesney and his group do as well as they can with what's on the play list. McChesney is appropriately tender and romantic on "This Is Where We Came In". On the one familiar tune, "Meet Me Where They Play the Blues", McChesney starts off in a tailgate gutbucket trombone style before sequing to a slap tongue, staccato mode followed by a high energy piano solo by Matt Harris. This is the albums' 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 him to demonstrate that he has a feel for the music he's playing 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 sink his improvisional teeth into.
Personnel: Bob McChesney - Trombone; Matt Harris - Piano; Trey Henry - Bass; Dick Weller - Drums