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The Bob McChesney Quartet: No Laughing Matter,,, Plays Steve Allen

Glenn Astarita By

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West Coast-based session musician, audio engineer, author and most of all a trombonist who possesses otherworldly and enviable chops; Bob McChesney is clearly a name to keep in mind which is a fairly easy task thanks to the “Bob McChesney Quartet” .... No Laughing Matter -Plays Steve Allen.

The legendary humorist and talk show host Steve Allen has also authored nearly 8000 tunes during his celebrated lifetime. Now in his 70’s Allen must be overjoyed with the winning formula represented on this classy and at times – stunning – recording. Here, McChesney, pianist Matt Harris, bassist Trey Davis and drummer Dick Weller elucidate and to a large extent, reinvent 10 Allen compositions as the overall results are often astounding and beguiling! Allen, the Renaissance man has composed for musicals, vocalists and has created a rather large body of work that represents a relatively expansive scope, whether it be Dixieland, Swing, Blues or glib and humorous pieces that are vehicles for his sharp wit. Here, the Quartet take Allen under their collective wing so to speak and perform these pieces as if they were truly written specifically for this project. - The band seemingly transcend any preconceived notions or expectations while paying dutiful homage to Allen’s penchant for sweet melodies, sentiment, congenial innocence and memorable hooks.

Bob McChesney exhibits his amazing technical prowess by performing rapid Bop-ish notes in quadruple time atop the bang-up and swiftly swinging rhythmic support on the opener, “Meet Me Where They Play The Blues”. Here, the band get the proceedings in motion with a few bars of dream-laden Blues lines, while subsequently pulling out the stops with some hard-driving and fierce grooves that will most assuredly grab the listener’s attention. These are consummate professionals with a mission in mind as they generate lush lyricism on Allen’s sentimental, “Time”. “Road Rage” is pure post-Bop led by McChesney’s commanding presence and authoritative articulation of the strong melody line. Again, McChesney’s impossibly fast; disciplined, clear-toned and concise delivery is purely mind-boggling while seldom if ever, missing a note! Yet, this is not all about chops as McChesney and his counterpart, pianist Matt Harris perform with soul and great depth throughout. On this piece, drummer Dick Weller emphasizes the stinging pace with polyrhythmic fills and crosscurrents that compliment the soloists as bassist Trey Henry also reinforces his rock solid support via deft picking and distinct tonal inflections. The band turn Allen’s “Steve’s Blues” into a vivacious blues/swing romp as the rhythm section kick matters into overdrive with sterling interplay and hearty soloing.

“The Bob McChesney Quartet” No Laughing Matter - Plays Steve Allen is clearly top-shelf stuff as the venerable Steve Allen must be proud of these lads! Besides the top-flight ensemble work an additional benefit is hearing the artistry of Mr. McChesney who is without a doubt one of the finest trombonists this writer has ever heard. No Laughing Matter is easily one of the top jazz recordings of this young millennium. Honestly, don’t let this one slip by and three cheers for Summit Records who continue to unveil and record less than well-known but worthy talent such as Bob McChesney, Ken and Harry Watters, Tom Taylor and many others.......* * * * *


Personnel:

Bob McChesney; Trombone: Matt Harris; Piano: Trey Henry; Bass: Dick Weller; Drums.

Other fine new releases from Summit Records are:

Phillip StrangeQuiet: Solo piano recitals of standards and originals with a Euro-Classic feel. Mr. Strange blends grandiosity with keen improvisation yet rarely loses sight of the melody while employing an elegant touch. Beautifully recorded! * * *

Title: No Laughing Matter,,, Plays Steve Allen | Year Released: 2000

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