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Rob McConnell: Tentet

It’s true you get more bang for your buck north of the border, and that goes beyond the fact that there are more than 71 minutes of solid craftsmanship contained herein. On this Canadian caper, 10 swingers explode with the super-charged spirit of a 17-piece band.

And while we’re still obsessed with the rate of exchange, “Two Bass Hit” is easily worth a home run. It is one of the most propulsive highlights of McConnell’s tentet debut. The tempo is brash and after it becomes a solo workout for the sax section, trading eights and fours, all three sax fiends pool their testosterone contrapuntally. Even when the rhythm section cuts out the blazing polyphony continues until only Terry Clarke’s drum cadenzas can put the brakes on.

So many high points; so little space: the clever unison line on “Everything I Love;” the tight, Gil Evanslike voicings on “Speak Low;” the soothing orchestral colors of “Con Alma;” the mood changes of “Manha de Carnaval;” the sensuous obbligato behind “Theme for Jobim;” and above all, the expressive, tear-inducing flugelhorn of Guido Basso on “Lush Life.” (Guido Basso? Sounds like a name only a jazzman would choose for the Witness Protection Program.)

Aside from that minor parenthetical detour, this CD is a superb combination of writing and execution.

Originally Published