Ethan Miller, Getty Images George Strait's new album is full of No. 1s for the…
- Posted on May 13th 2010 11:00AM by Mike Ayers
As a jazz artist, McConnell was an influential composer and arranger, choosing to continue with a big band style of music that was mostly popular between the '20s and '40s. Starting in the late '60s, when popular jazz artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins were getting more experimental, McConnell continued the big band tradition with his group Boss Brass, utilizing a rhythm section surrounded by brass instruments. McConnell himself played the valve trombone, won three Grammys and was inducted in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1997.
Of his recorded output, his best-known work was collaborative efforts with legendary crooner Mel Torme. The pair released 1987's 'Mel Torme/Rob McConnell and Boss Brass' and the 1995 follow-up, 'Velvet & Brass,' the latter of which yielded his last Grammy for the arrangement of 'I Get a Kick Out of You.'
McConnell got his start in 1954, working with saxophonist Don Thompson and eventually became one of the more successful Canadian jazz artists in the US. Guido Basso, his flugelhorn player since 1968, told CBC News "[Boss Brass] was the only Canadian jazz band that could cross the border and play the living daylights out of US musicians. He heard things the rest of us didn't. It was the way he was able to take a song that you and I know well and reharmonize it [to] get the ultimate beauty out of the melody."
He is survived by his wife, Anne Gibson, two siblings, three children and seven grandchildren.