Rob McConnell has trimmed his 17-piece Boss Brass to a streamlined tentet. Besides the advantage of economics the smaller band lends itself to extended soloing and to a flexible ensemble swing. McConnell's intelligently spaced voicings generally avoid the thin sound that sometimes comes out of cut-down bands. (The missing horns are most noticeable when a section backs a soloist.) Personally I prefer the open sound of the smaller band, notably on a subtly fashioned arrangement such as "Speak Low." A relaxed, airy "Theme for Jobim" stands as another example of the smaller band's intimacy.
The saxophonists are the most prominent soloists. Altoist P.J. Perry somehow sounds modern without deriving from Charlie Parker. (There is a hint of Ornette Coleman in some of his jagged, bluesy lines.) He is a refreshing and quick-witted player. Of the tenors Alex Dean leans toward a Joe Henderson muscularity while Mike Murley prefers more ethereal lines in the area of Warne Marsh. There is a three-way saxophone free-for-all on the bop classic "Two Bass Hit," a flagwaver unmercifully driven by drummer Terry Clarke.
With its unison lines "Everything I Love" evokes a jazz combo. Never one to hog solo space in his own bands McConnell is tellingly featured on the piece.
Pianist Dave Restivo is particularly attuned to the fill-in-the-blanks requirements of band piano. He effectively assimilates his own personality into the musicality of this lovely band.
Track Listing: Old Devil Moon; Speak Low; Two Bass Hit; Everything I Love; Con Alma; Maybe September; Theme for Jobim; Ian Leaps Out; Manha de Carnival; Lush Life; These are the Things I Love.
Personnel: Rob McConnell- valve trombone, leader; Guido Basso - flugelhorn; Steve McDade - trumpet; Terry Promane - trombone; P.J. Perry - alto; Mike Murley, Alex Dean - tenor; Dave Restivo - piano; Steve Wallace - bass; Terry Clarke - drums.