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September 1997

Rob McConnell, Ed Bickert, Don Thompson
Three for the Road
Concord Jazz

Putting aside the Boss Brass for a moment, here we catch Rob McConnell and his trusty valve trombone in the good company of guitarist Ed Bickert and bassist/pianist Don Thompson. It's the kind of relaxed situation in which a trio of pals kick back to barbecue a rack of standards, "chatting" amiably about life as well as music. In fact, it's the aspect of truly interactive "conversation" that best characterizes these warm proceedings.

"A Sleepin' Bee," McConnell notes, was inspired by recollections of Jimmy Rowles stirred by the pianist's death last year. And if one listens closely, one hears a note of melancholy in the trio's upbeat treatment. In similar fashion, the medley of "Two For the Road," "Royal Blue" and "Dreamsville" was included as a salute to the songwriting genius of Henry Mancini who also passed away in 1996. There's unabashed good fun in romps like the carefree run-down of "Dream a Little Dream of Me." Still, there's a poignancy that perhaps comes from confronting one's own mortality (as well as that of friends and colleagues). Let the music play on!

Originally published in September 1997
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