Rob McConnell is best known for his Boss Brass, an energetic group playing high voltage arrangements and playing them well. His Tentet follows an amended format. In addition to the size, the arrangements are more relaxed, more thoughtful than the larger group generally has at its disposal. An advantage to playing with fewer people is that the charts allow each member of the group to get some solo time and that's the case here. For example, Steve McDade is front and center on "Con Alma" with a Harmon mute on his horn giving it a sort of other worldly resonance. The distinguished Canadian jazz veteran, Guido Basso, brings his delicately phrased flugelhorn to "Lush Life", making it one of the album's premier tracks. The ensemble work matches the quality of the individual efforts. There's a casual, flowing presentation of George Shearing's arrangement of "Speak Low". While everyone is in unison, the group stays loose. Steve Wallace's swinging, melodic bass weaving in and around the horns, brings much needed freshness to a too oft played standard. If there is a production number for the set, it's a more than 11 minute in depth exploration of Luis Bonfa's masterpiece. "Manha de Carnaval" featuring an A Capella piano solo by Dave Restivo which the ensemble rides in on leading to sax, trumpet and trombone solos before a blowing session coda. Just to make sure everyone is paying attention, there's a ringing, rousing rendition of "Ian Leaps Out", again with the horn section members soloing in between ensemble work.
The icing on the cake, the Justin Time label is generous with more than 70 minutes of playing time by these skilled jazz performers. Recommended.
Personnel: Rob McConnell - Trombone/Leader; Terry Promane - Trombone; Guido Basso - Flugelhorn; P. J. Perry - Alto Sax; Mike Murley, Alex Dean - Tenor Sax; Steve McDade- Trumpet; Steve Wallace - Bass; Terry Clarke - Drums; Dave Restivo - Piano