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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

"So Very Rob"

Rob McConnell


The SWR Big Band

Hanssler CD 93.107




        1. Autumn in New York
        2. Confirmation
        3. Street of Dreams
        4. Peace / Blue Silver
        5. So Very Rob
        6. What Am I Here For
        7. Sixth Sense
        8. Stella By Starlight
        9. Crazy Rhythm
        10. A Child is Born / Our Waltz
        11. Things Ain’t what They Used To Be.

      Canadian Rob McConnell’s arrangements have become the "A" levels of Big Band Music, when played by the best, there is little difference between his original ‘Boss Brass’ versions and those played by the likes of the SWR Big Band or for that matter the BBC Big Band. The difficulty of many of them should not be underestimated; Rob’s arrangements are not aimed at your average local big band.

      The SWR band is well up to the challenge, it has both the quality of soloist required and the precision in section work and ensembles to come forward with very creditable performances of Rob’s charts. Whether this degree of complexity is necessary, depends on your point of view. The Basie Band always sounded superb to me, with arrangements by Neal Hefti and Frank Foster which, though not for beginners, were easier to play and gave the band that wonderful relaxed sound that is sometimes lacking here.

      The soloists in the SWR Band are excellent, I particularly liked Axel Kuhn’s solo on Autumn in New York and Jorg Kaufmann’s tenor work on So Very Rob. Sixth Sense has a good solo from Rob McConnell himself on Valve Trombone and the excellent Klaus Wagenleiter on piano.

      The brass is crisp throughout; the trumpets handle the many high passages confidently. The other sections are equally good and the band’s overall precision and dynamics are top class. Holger Nell the drummer swings the band and is very sympathetic in his backing of the soloists.

      This album is well up to the high standard the SWR Big Band have set for themselves and this CD is a must for Big Band fans.

      Don Mather


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