January 4th, 1965,
another historic milestone was reached in contemporary music.
on that landmark
evening the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra, the world's only permanent
resident orchestra devoted to contemporary music, gave the first of 11
concerts in The Pavilion of The Los Angeles Music Center.
for contemporary music, another opportunity for innovative expression
arrived. In a dazzling blend of imaginative writing and superb
the Neophonic Orchestra presented dramatic evidence that it was quite
of offering the listener a unique musical experience.
had followed Stan Kenton's eclectic career the announcement that he had
been invited to premiere the Neophonic Orchestra at Los Angeles'
dollar Music Center came as one more victory over the many slights
music had been subjected to over the years.
can forget the Carnegie Hall concert of 1948!
to perform in that venerable concert hall with the stipulation he go on
at midnight. Carnegie Hall's management insisted their conservative,
music patrons would be offended if a ‘jazz concert’ (especially one by
Stan Kenton) was scheduled at the more traditional curtain time of 8:00
PM. Imagine their surprise when every seat in the house, including 300
folding chairs placed upon the stage, were sold-out in 12-hours!
later that same type enthusiastic support for any new musical direction
Kenton might take was still very much in evidence. The 11 Neophonic
performed in 1965, 1966 and 1968 proved conclusively that audiences
support a new musical concept which challenged them when given the
A music that was compelling, inventive and very definitely on the
selected from the more than 35 original compositions which received
world premieres during those three triumphal seasons, underscore the
harmonies, explosive rhythms and impeccable solo work which became a
of the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra.
questioned why Kenton felt the need to radically alter his Orchestra’ s
musical architecture by forming the Neophonic Orchestra, the reason was
simple. He felt contemporary music, and jazz in particular had
itself through so many different styles, permutations and
that the term ‘jazz’ was less meaningful. Jazz had become such a
phrase for all types of contemporary music; from ballads to blues;
own ‘progressive jazz’ to Bop, that any attempt to build upon
forms was not only restrictive, but impossible.
this was not the first time Stan Kenton had elected to reshape his
and instrumentation and move the Orchestra in an entirely different
1950, without a doubt, will long be remembered in music circles as the
year he impressed audiences and critics with his 40-piece ‘Innovations
in Modern Music Orchestra’.
the lines of a miniature symphony -- woodwinds, violins, cellos and a
timpani section augmented his primary 19-piece orchestra –
was described by critics as the first positive attempt to begin
over the gap that had long existed between jazz and classical
Orchestra enjoyed an unprecedented success, the melding together of the
two forms was short-lived. For some, it as neither jazz, nor classical,
but an exploitation of one while demanding the rigorous disciplines of
the other. After weathering two short, but lively seasons marked by a
of critical controversy, tempered by rave reviews from his audiences,
ceased to function as an interpreter of contemporary music.
so the search continued.
New York, Gunther
Schuller, John Lewis and George Russell began experimenting with ‘Third
Stream’ music, which although a throwback to the classical tradition
yet another meaningful attempt to combine two precise forms into one in
an effort to expand upon them.
in Los Angeles Kenton went through a trial and error period of
in which he added five E-flat trumpets to the Orchestra’s already
10-man brass section. When that fell short of providing the contrasting
tonal patterns he wanted, he changed the five E-flat trumpets to five
flugelhorns. When that, too, left a void he discovered almost by
that a brace of four Conn mellophoniums (alto brass horns keyed in F)
captured that elusive color range between the trumpets and trombones he
had been seeking for so long.
for three years with the 'Mellophonium Orchestra' and played to
houses both here and on the continent. Thanks in large part to Kenton’s
own deft touch and notable contributions from Bill Holman, Ralph
Johnny Richards, Gene Roland, Dee Barton and Lennie Niehaus the library
featured some of the most driving and melodic writing ever conceived.
creative pathfinders, the time had once again arrived for him to
his music into yet another dimension.
for England in the winter of 1963, Kenton decided he would remain in
Angeles for 18-months so he could form an altogether different
One which could be permanently located in Los Angeles and would utilize
many of the people who, from 1941 to present day, had graduated from
band and were playing, composing and arranging for the television and
recording is a tribute to not only Stan Kenton’s vision, but to
who helped make the Neophonic Orchestra a reality and skillfully shaped
it into one of the most daring and successful ventures ever undertaken
by a performer.
when the Neophonic’s clarion trumpet calls, robust trombone passages
soaring saxophone runs begin swirling about you that you, too, sense
same exhilaration these musicians experienced on their way to January
1965; a most historic date for music.