Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Although drummer Shelly Manne was closely associated with the Contemporary label for many years, he also recorded for other companies after Contemporary slowed down operations. This particular Koch CD reissues a set that was cut for Atlantic. The 1966 version of Shelly Manne's Men (altoist Frank Strozier, trumpeter Conte Candoli, pianist Russ Freeman, and bassist Monty Budwig) played in a similar style to his 1950s groups. Only Strozier hints (and only slightly in spots) at the avant-garde explorations then going on elsewhere. The quintet performs three group originals, an obscurity, "The Breeze and I," and "Margie" (which was arranged by Jimmy Rowles). Fine hard bop music.
Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass add plenty of spice to this Christmas jazz CD, not only with superb, fresh charts but a few surprising selections. The rich brass and reeds carry the deliberate rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which segues into a perky Latin-flavored chart of "I'll Be Home for Christmas." "Away in a Manger" is not the commonly heard melody but one first written in 1887, though the music will likely be familiar, even if one doesn't associate it with the well-known lyrics. The lush setting of "The Christmas Song," which likely set Mel Tormé and Bob Wells for life with royalty checks due to its many recordings, showcases the leader's valve trombone and pianist David Restivo. "My Favorite Things," originally written for The Sound of Music, has gradually been transformed into double duty as a Christmas carol; this swinging interpretation works very well. Johnny Mandel, the composer of many memorable melodies, deserves greater recognition for his gorgeous piece "A Christmas Love Song"; this arrangement deserved to help put it on the jazz map. Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass consistently delivered first-rate music throughout their existence, this holiday CD no exception.