Rob McConnell
Background information
Birth nameRobert Murray Gordon McConnell
Born(1935-02-14)February 14, 1935
London, Ontario, Canada
DiedMay 1, 2010(2010-05-01) (aged 75)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresJazz, big band
Occupation(s)Musician, arranger, composer
Years active1960s–2000s
LabelsConcord, Pausa, MPS, Dark Orchid, Innovation
Associated actsBoss Brass

Robert Murray Gordon "Rob" McConnell, OC (14 February 1935 – 1 May 2010) was a Canadian jazz trombonist, composer, and arranger.[1] McConnell is best known for establishing and leading the big band The Boss Brass, which he directed from 1967 to 1999.


McConnell was born in London, Ontario and took up the valve trombone in high school. He began his performing career in the early 1950s, performing and studying with Clifford Brown,[2] Don Thompson, Bobby Gimby, and later with Canadian trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. He studied music theory with Gordon Delamont. In 1968 he formed The Boss Brass, a big band that became his primary performing and recording unit through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.[3]

McConnell assembled the original Boss Brass from Toronto studio musicians. The instrumentation of the band was originally sixteen pieces, consisting of trumpets, trombones, French horns, and a rhythm section but no saxophones. He introduced a saxophone section in 1970 and expanded the trumpet section to include the fifth trumpet in 1976, bringing the total to twenty-two members.

In 1977 McConnell recorded a double LP called 'Big Band Jazz'. This was a 'direct cut' LP using Direct-to-disc recording. A small number of albums that recorded direct-to-disc began to appear on the market in the late 1970s and were marketed as "audiophile" editions, promising superior sound quality compared with recordings made using the more common multi-track tape recording methods. On McConnell's direct cut double LP, an entire side (15 minutes and 2 seconds) was devoted to a version of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. The double album won the Juno Award for Best Jazz Album in 1978. His 1983 All in Good Time album won the Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble recording.

In 1988, McConnell took a teaching position at the Dick Grove School of Music in California but gave up his position and returned to Canada a year later. In 1992 he was presented with a SOCAN jazz award.[4] In 1997, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and in 1998 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He remained active throughout the 2000s, touring internationally as both a performer and educator, running music clinics around the world and performing as a leader and guest artist. The Rob McConnell Tentet, a scaled-down version of the Boss Brass featuring many Boss Brass alumni, recorded three albums, The Rob McConnell Tentet (2000), Thank You, Ted (2002), and Music of the Twenties (2003).

McConnell died from liver cancer on May 1, 2010 in Toronto at the age of 75.[5][6]


The Boss Brass

Canadian Talent Library

Middle Period

Concord Period

Other groups

As sideman

See also


  1. ^ Jeff Sultanof. Experiencing Big Band Jazz: A Listener's Companion. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 8 November 2017. ISBN 978-1-4422-4243-2. p. 150.
  2. ^ Clifford Brown and a 20 year-old Rob McConnell played a jam session in Quebec City on June 28th, 1955. Six cuts can be found on Clifford Brown, "Complete Quebec City Jam Session," released on audio CD in 2009. Around the same time, Brown apparently made a home recording of "Strike up the Band" with McConnell of but this recording, while shared on the internet, has not been released commercially.
  3. ^ "Boss Brass founder Rob McConnell dies at 75". CBC Arts, May 03, 2010
  4. ^ Larry LeBlanc (14 November 1992). "'Do it for you' does it at the SOCAN Awards". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.: 48–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  5. ^ Mergner, Lee (3 May 2010). "Rob McConnell, Jazz Trombonist and Big Band Leader, Dies at 75". Jazz Times. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  6. ^ Keepnews, Peter (12 May 2010). "Rob McConnell, Musician and Big Band Leader, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 December 2016.