“The Best Damn Band In The Land” may have been coined by Rob McConnell himself, for one of the dozens of albums he recorded with his legendary big band, but it wasn’t an undeserved boast. Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass set a standard and defined the Canadian sound for big band music for decades.
Rob McConnell assembled the original Boss Brass from Toronto’s finest studio musicians. The instrumentation of the The Boss Brass was originally sixteen pieces, consisting of trumpets, trombones, french horns and a rhythm section, but no saxophones (woodwinds). McConnell introduced a sax section in 1970, and expanded the trumpet section to include a fifth trumpet player in 1976, bringing the total to 22 members.
Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass has played to acclaim at all the major festivals around the globe. In its heyday in the 70’s when the Boss Brass played in clubs in Los Angeles, famed musicians and band leaders from the area, like Nelson Riddle, would flock to the shows. “They could even be seen lining up night after night to hear the band”, said Boss Brass Trumpeter, Guido Basso.
Awards and honours for McConnell and the band were numerous, with a phenomenal 17 Grammy nominations and three wins for Best Jazz Big Band, Best Arrangement and Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist. They were also recognized at home with three Juno awards in 1978, 1981 and 1984.
McConnell and The Boss Brass collaborated with many jazz greats over the years including The Singers Unlimited, Mel Torme, and Phil Woods.