its 57 years had Carnegie Hall been so jammed – and never so racked by
such raucous music. The 300 fans on stage had the most tranquil spot:
were behind the brass. But out in front, the louder it got, the better
they liked it. And no band yet had out blown Stan Kenton’s for sheer din
toothy Stan Kenton had already pronounced that 'dead, gone, finished.'
Some doubted that it was even jazz: it had a shifty beat (and sometimes
none), little – if any – form, and even less improvisation. Most of it
sounded like Duke Ellington with the D.Ts. But when Kenton’s band got
pushing out such huge, screeching blotches of sound as 'Artistry
Jumps' and 'Message to Harlem,' the Fans ripped the place wide open.
listened to his newest and most pretentious masterpiece, 'Prologue
in Four Movements' in a state of glassy somnambulance. When Kenton
it all with 'Concerto to End All Concertos,' Carnegie hadn’t heard such
yelling in years.
moved into Chicago’s Civic Opera House for a one-night stand; the 4,200
seats and standing room been sold out for two weeks and 3,000 ticket
had been turned away. (It was no trouble at all to get seats in advance
for the Metropolitan Opera’s famed Ezio Pinza that afternoon.)
first the first golden days of Glenn Miller and Harry James had a
popularity reached the proportions of a craze. What was all the
Kenton is a
ft. 41/2 in. Californian who at 36 has the same ambition Paul Whiteman
had in the ’20s: to marry classical
and jazz. In Whiteman’s case, what emerged was pseudo symphonic – a
of Tin Pan Alley and Tchaikovsky. In Kenton’s, it is a driving, nervous
(and technically skillful) wedding of swing and Schonberg. Kenton
his outfit in 1941, got ahead fast by getting up early to sign
and looking up disc jockeys whenever he hit a new town. For the past
years, his musicians have been voted Band of the Year.
considers his 'progressive jazz' just what the psychiatrist ordered.
Last month, he sat down with DownBeat reporter (Harvard man Mike
gave him a 6½-column interview that sounded sometimes like a
sometimes like a talk with Father Divine. Said Kenton: 'The human race
may be going through nervous frustration and thwarted emotional
which traditional music is entirely incapable of not only satisfying,
decided to dispense his music only from concert halls (it is
anyway). Long-haired competition is the least of his worries. Said
'Jazz will dominate and swallow up classical [music] as we know it in
country. . . Stravinsky, Milhaud, Prokofiev and Hindemith . . . use
of the same sounds and rhythmical devices, but we still are the only
to rely on the emotional projection of the freely individual musician.'
But of one
freely individual musician, he says: 'What's wrong with Louis
is that he plays without any scientific element . . . all natural
forms of inspiration in music – have been exhausted -- today we have to
create music scientifically and then project with it and into its
That kind of
was too much even for some of the initiates. Stormed Barry
who is an editor of a rival cultist
called Metronome: 'Kids [are going] haywire . . . over
sheer noise of this band . . . There is a danger . . . of an entire
growing up with the idea that jazz and the atom bomb are essentially
same natural phenomenon.'
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child was on the loose again. It could be said that Stan Kenton at 36
old enough to know better -- to know better than to gamble his career
concertizing. 'To present the finest music we know how to create,'
announced on February 2, 'we have to do it without being hampered by
who come to dance, eat popcorn, make a contact of some sort, or maybe
come in to get warm.' Hence the bandleader said, no more one-nighters
as few theater and hotel dates as possible.
Kenton is music's answer to the terrifying implications of the atomic
(and they are many) laughed happily and said that Stan would now get
Those who think that Kenton is heaven's solution as to how to get jazz
out of New Orleans (and they appear to be as numerous) said a little
and wondered how concert productions of little-known numbers would sell
enough Capitol records to buy pappy his quota of shoes.
has everything,' wrote George Frazier in Down Beat as far back as 1942.
'But I don't like it . . . to me, it's terrific in a revolting way. It's
the poor man's Whiteman.'
said Barry Ulanov in the February issue of Metronome, 'this is the
band ever . . . a neurotic conception of jazz, if not of all of music.'
Goffin, the Belgian jazz expert, Kenton was 'completely revolutionary .
. . to music what Dali is to art.' And to Rudi Blesh, who reviewed his
February 14 Carnegie Hall concert for the New York Herald Tribune, the
Kenton band emerged 'as the sort of tonal instrument of which Berlioz,
Mussorgsky, and even Satie must have dreamed.' But, conditioned Blesh,
'none of the original pieces of Kenton and his top arrangers is to be
seriously as serious music.'
with some help from -- sentiments like these, Kenton went ahead with
plans. A concert last November 11 at the Chicago Civic Opera House
$10,000. Then on February 13 in Philadelphia at the staid Academy of
he went into high gear. With himself and his band all decked out in
ties as befitted such activity, he took in $7,600. Carnegie Hall in New
York grossed a record of $8,700 -- with a high $4.80 top and sold out
in advance. Symphony Hall in Boston on February 15 brought in $8,000.
at the Syria Mosque last week, saw $9,600 roll in, and Chicago,
on Sunday, February 22, to the tune of a rescaled $4.80 at the Civic
House, donated an estimated $11,000.
Sages in the
like Billboard, pointed out that the concert circuit could only supply
60 working days, and what would he do when that ran out? The trade
had to admit, though, if he sold out such an itinerary he might be able
to gross $250,000. Whatever the outcome, Kenton always had ready a
stemming from 1941, when he first started his band. 'I've played solo
for drunks in saloons before and I can do it again.'
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LOUDER, BUT MELLOWER
at this city's auditorium last night should happen to the country at
and will be happening during the coming three months. At 8:30 P.M.
lanky Stan Kenton raised the curtain on a musical aggregation bound to
shock, thrill and puzzle young and old for years to come.
beautifully-shaded notes of Kenton's theme, 'Artistry In Rhythm,'
orchestra revealed an intellectual intent unparalleled in the history
modern American music . . . and I do not qualify that statement with
use of such restrictive categorization as 'dance,' 'jazz,' 'swing,'
or any other one type of playing.
is the first produced in this country since the immortal Duke
real heyday (1940-45) which cannot be typed, compared to, contrasted
or placed neatly in this 'school' or that Stan Kenton's 40 serious
gentlemen, schooled musicians all, blew, pounded, scraped, and plucked
the most significant collections of sounds (and Kenton delights in
with that word) these ears, those of the audience (3000) and probably
of the musicians themselves had ever heard . . . sounds quite apart
the at-times blatant blowing of Stan's last all-brass band. Sectional
intonation, attack, and 'emotional projection' were beyond belief.
a bit thick, it is meant to be just that, a commendation in words much
too inadequate to convey any idea of what did happen on the Seattle
Specifically, bop addicts were satisfied with the individual
efforts of altoist Art Pepper, drummer Shelly Manne, trumpeter Shorty
and such bop-spiced compositions as Rogers ' An Expression From Rogers'
and 'Blues In Riff.' Tone color in all its true vital majesty was
as always in the gutty, brilliant scores of longtime Kenton arranger
Rugolo -- such compositions as 'Mirage' and 'Conflict.'
virtuosity of Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida and conga drummer
Vidal was spectacularly showcased in 'Amazonia' and 'Cuban Episode.'
then we've already said that critical language just can't cope with
man and his music. I would suggest that you be present Saturday
February 11, at The Auditorium, Portland, to see and hear for yourself
what Stan Kenton's 'Innovations in Modern Music for 1950' is all about.
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A year ago
December, 'progressive' Jazzman Stan Kenton decided to quit. His band
making almost as much money as it was noise, but Stan, who regarded
as strictly a concert man, didn’t like some of the places he had to
especially the dance halls. And he wasn’t sure, he added, that he was
the idea that he might contribute more by becoming a psychiatrist. "I
I talked up a storm about the thing," he says. 'Everybody thought that
was going to be the next move.' But it would have meant a long grind
pre-med courses, medical school, internship and a 3-year residency and
Stan was already 37.
latest move, right back to what he started from, was the loudest thing
in Los Angeles. To the frenetic mob, mostly teen-agers, that overflowed
Los Angeles 2,670-seat Philharmonic Auditorium to hear him, Bandman
nervously explained what he was up to: he wanted listeners to write
confidential reactions to his 'Innovations in Modern Music for 1950' on
the cards that had been handed out.
'If you start looking for melody, you won’t find any . . . We get a
thing out of concocting sound.' He went on rapidly to add: 'Its sound
With that he whirled around to let them have it.
of sound from the brasses pinned the audience to its chairs. Lanky Stan
Kenton flapped his arms like a scarecrow in a hurricane as the band
out a 'montage' of the jazzed-up dissonances that Kentonites have
over since 1941: 'Artistry in Percussion,' 'Opus in Pastels,' 'Artistry
awhile he gave them a breather. June Christy . . . cooed 'Get Happy,
Road' and 'I'll Remember April.' Most of the time it was a bewildering
battle between the violins, violas and cellos on one side and the
brasses on the other.
admitted there was room for improvement. 'The greatest criticism we had
was for the fact that the brass section, when it spoke, it spoke so
that the string section which it interrupted was so completely
that it all sounded disconnected -- as if they were playing two
pieces.' He was sure he was on the right track with his main idea.
hear music and they don't know what the hell they like about it, but it
creates a certain turmoil, a certain insecurity, things that are with
Stan Kenton was set to take his turmoil on a tour of 77 U.S. and
cities, beginning this week.
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ADDS 4 MELLOPHONIUMS . . . MORE BRASS. MORE MELLOW.
brassily bellicose bands have been challenging American eardrums for
than fifteen years, brought the latest edition of his orchestra to
Street East on Thursday night.
more brass instruments than usual in this group, but Mr. Kenton has
them to serve as a mellowing, softening influence as well as to
the band's normally piercing brassiness.
instruments are mellophoniums, mellophones whose tubing has been
out so that the bell points straight ahead like that of a trumpet
of being directed back over the musician's shoulder. It was created
years ago by Don Elliott, a jazz mellophonist who had found that solos
played on a regular mellophone could not be heard properly unless he
with his back toward his audience. Mr. Kenton added the unusual
to his orchestra last winter to remedy what he felt was 'a lack of
color' in its performance.
At first, he
he had difficulty finding musicians who were willing to play the
Trumpeters and French hornists, who were the logical choices, bridled
the suggestion that they switch to what they looked on as a freak
who insists that the mellophonium is no freak and is here to stay as
as he is concerned, was persuasively persistent, and he now has a
section manned by two former trumpeters, one former French hornist and
one mellophonist who had to be weaned away from his past habit of using
a trumpet mouthpiece.
Playing as a
the mellophoniums frequently sound like muted trumpets with a slightly
darker tone. They can also create the distant, haunting sound of French
horns (Mr. Kenton chose them in preference to French horns, because, he
says, they are capable of a stronger attack than the French horn). Both
aspects enable the current Kenton band to play slow, moody numbers with
a richer, more lustrous voicing than it has had in the recent past.
But when Mr.
lets all the stops out, the mellophoniums also add a full share to the
pandemonium, sailing with surprising agility around and over the
and trombones like exultant Valkyries. Their presence gives the Kenton
band more scope and balance than it has had for years.
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It was a
muggy, starlit night in the dusty Ontario lake town of Port Stanley
1,480). The fish flies swarmed and the rickety Stork Club Ballroom had
just disgorged 800 jazz fans. By 2:25 a.m., all 23 bandsmen had
aboard the big silver, red and white bus, followed by Bandleader Stan
carrying a cardboard carton with 30 ham sandwiches. Somebody snapped on
the switch of a blue light that signified drinking time, and the bus
crew, which last week was midway through a nine-month tour, is riding
crest of a post-rock ’n’ roll revival of interest in bands. The revival
has not yet risen to the peak of the ’30s when the bands roamed the
in gaudy caravans, carrying a whiff of the wide world with them. But,
there are fewer bands today, the top ones are making bigger money and
more bookings. If they wanted to, such men as Ray Anthony, Harry James,
Duke Ellington, Woody Herman and Les Brown could probably work every
of the week playing at colleges, in high school gymnasiums and under
tents. Stan Kenton nearly does work a seven-day week.
circuit, Kenton keeps his men in a state of near exhaustion that,
seems to add to their cohesion and musical esprit. To the usual
jazzed-up dissonances that are his musical trademark, Kenton this year
has added the sound of the mellophonium, a kind of straightened French
horn that he developed to fill in a range of sound that usually remains
unexploited – somewhere between the trumpet and the trombone. Whipped
the rhythm section’s artfully lagging beat, the buttery mellophonium
satisfies the taste of as many as 5,000 a night. As a result, the
band is this summer’s briskest moneymaker.
band, the ritual of the hit-and-run – two one-nighters laid back to
– is a commonplace, if still nightmarish, feature of touring life.
himself has been at it for 21 years, as has his driver, who first
a Kenton bus in 1941. The hit-and-run from Port Stanley was typical:
destination was Cleveland, 300 miles away, where the band had a concert
the following afternoon. As soon as the bus pulled out the bandsmen
down to the jazz world’s two favorite antidotes to boredom – poker
of the bus) and drinking (front). Kenton rode in the well at the front
door. A few lucky musicians were able to sleep notably Saxophonist Joel
Kaye, who at 140 lbs. is small enough to slip into the overhead luggage
rack. A couple of other bandsmen listened over individual earphones to
the tape recorder that Kenton had installed at the start of the tour.
listening: Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Puccini.
the bus stopped at an all-night diner for a 45-minute breakfast break
band had not eaten since 6 p.m.). By 9:30 a.m. the bus was within '14
of Cleveland distances are invariably measured in poker hands), and the
bandsmen hoped they might have time for some sleep before the concert.
As it turned out, they had time only for showers before piling out into
90-degree heat in the big tent where they were to play. For all that,
band blew its lungs out for two hours; in such numbers as 'Malaguena'
'Waltz of the Prophets' it produced the most exciting big-band sound
life worth it?
here on the road,' says Trumpeter Marvin Stamm, 'but then there’s
anywhere in life.'
believes that this band is the best he ever had: 'It’s not really a
it’s the way we live.'
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The music of
Kenton's band never has been and probably never will be -- designed for
the drawing room.
as was performed last evening can only be described as exciting. The
color and drive can hardly fail to move a lover of modern jazz.
who have followed Kenton's career since he first rose to prominence in
the 1940s feel that this 22-piece group may well be the greatest of all
and harmonic structures of Kenton arrangements still bear the mark of
early Balboa Beach, California band. But the addition of more brass
(four mellophoniums) and the deepening of his saxophone section
of an alto with a tenor saxophone and occasional use of the bass
give a deeper voice to the ensemble.
has played together since last spring is young as jazz organizations
The machine-like precision of the saxophone section has not quite been
achieved. This polish will come as the band matures.
is a stable of soloists comparable to Shelly Manne, Conte Candoli and
Musso who departed from the original band to make their own individual
marks on modern jazz.
showcase solo on 'Stella by Starlight' demonstrated his versatility on
the baritone saxophone. Trumpeter Marvin Stamm, alto saxophone Gabe
and trombonist Dee Barton also gave polished performances.
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KENTON'S ORCHESTRA OFFERS EXCITING NEW RANGE
OF TONE AND
band sound came back to Battle Creek last night and proved that the
Touch' could still work its magic spell. A wildly enthusiastic audience
greeted Stan on his third appearance here, and such fervent,
applause has not been heard at the W.K.Kellogg Auditorium since the
A man who is
content to rest on yesterday's laurels, Mr. Kenton has come up with an
exciting new range of color and tone, made possible by the addition of
an instrument designed specifically for the Kenton Orchestra by the
Co. The mellophonium is, as its name suggests, a warm, vibrant horn
a register that fills the gap between the trumpets and trombones and
up endless avenues of tonal variations.
horn and keyed in F, the mellophonium was the undisputed star of last
brilliant program -- a program where virtuosity was the norm and
the only means of description.
shines like a bright star in a decade of popular music, distinguished
for its mediocrity, except for show tunes. The rich, full baritone
of trumpeter Ernie Bernhardt only served to emphasize the gulf between
the fine male vocalist of the big band era and the pathetic excuses
now masquerade under the title, 'singer.' It was a sad day when someone
discovered that a guitar could be used for other than serenading ladies
were needed for the Kenton aggregation. It could blast in a wild melee
of strange rhythms and uncomfortable harmonies, or produce an 'April in
Paris' that was achingly beautiful.
applause wouldn't stop for this lovely piece, he congratulated the
on their excellent taste.
style is distinctly his own, and far more progressive than his
of the early 40s, it nevertheless evokes nostalgic memories of the
period when high school youngsters the nation over danced to the
of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Glen Gray.
guide these jazz buffs but each selection was greeted by a burst of
so the aficionados apparently knew the way. Kenton, himself, is an
attractive man and his easy banter was pitched at just the right level.
He wandered from the piano, where his delightful playing gave the men a
needed respite, to the front of the band in such a casual, happy way
everyone returned his friendliness in kind.
did themselves -- some a little farther out than others. Marvin
neatly probed the outer fringes in space with his unearthly sound on
baritone sax. His technique was fabulous but he lost your reviewer at
same time 'Stella by Starlight' disappeared in a welter of diminished
and augmented 7ths
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22 GR-R-REAT IN TREMENDOUS CONCERT
in the next seat had just had the wax blown out of his ears by a Stan
rouser, 'Peanut Vendor,' replete with 22 musicians of great verve.
the buff, "Kenton isn't going to be really satisfied until they let him
set-off a hydrogen bomb. He's got to get that BIG sound."
But it's hardly a fair appraisal of Kenton & Company, who held a
crowd at Memorial Auditorium enthusiastically enthralled last night.
new big, BIG BAND -- five trumpets, five trombones, four mellophoniums
(kind of a straightened out French horn toned between trumpet and
five saxophones and three rhythmists.
How do you describe this concert? 'Tremendous' has been long over used
in connection with Kenton appearances. But I'd have to manufacture a
to take its place and I can't think of one right now.
the Memorial Auditorium jazz crowd as they have seldom been stirred. At
one point -- the charging, crashing climax of 'Malaguena' -- many were
on their feet cheering.
more than sound. There was the special Kenton treatment of ballads like
'April in Paris.' Few people in the music business have Kenton's soft,
sure touch with a ballad. His section work is perfectly balanced and
in quality -- a pure joy to hear..
pace there was the old music horse, Sam Donahue, who played brilliant
sax with a driving down home flavor. Baritone saxist Marvin Holladay
outstanding on 'Stella by Starlight.'
disappointment was the well-touted 'new sound of Kenton.' The sound was
different -- it has to be with the bigger band and the addition of the
Kenton was louder, he had more blow pressure. Too, Kenton was mellower.
The addition of a tuba, the gentle-sounding mellophoniums and a
deep-throated saxophone brought this about.
was never better and he was never appreciated more in Louisville.
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KEEPS ON AMAZING
It was, as
lady said, 'hard on the ears,' but it wasn't necessarily the loud
of Stan Kenton's 22 pieces at the Bushnell Saturday night; it was the
pitch that made the eardrums reverberate.
old, some new numbers, some newer faces, Stan 'The Man' (in the music
gave a well-rounded and slightly mellowed accounting for his more than
20 year uphill fight against the 'progressive' tag. What was
then, Bushnell patrons recognized as leadership -- or genius -- now.
filled the range superbly between trumpet and French horn, providing
coloration and warmth that is making his newer arrangements more
alto sax work on 'Stairway to the Stars' is an object lesson for all
little kids who don't see the need to practice their finger exercises.
His sweet embouchure and rapid attack brought down the house.
showed technical ability at a killing tempo; 'All the Things You Are'
the chorale effect of the mellophoniums developed at Kenton's bidding.
was the constantly flashy wrist technique of drummer Jerry (Lestock)
trying to turn the cymbals inside out on 'Limehouse Blues.'
to his earlier years, Kenton pulled 'Intermission Riff' out of his deep
hat. That and 'Malaguena' showed his flair in leading the band.
always, but soft and cloying when necessary as in his wondrous 'Maria'
from 'West Side Story,' Kenton & Company showed skill, technique
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August 15, 1973
TO ITS FEET
been in a smoky underground bar crowded with swaying bodies, but Stan
and his Orchestra's concert at the Auditorium Tuesday night still
a small, jazz-crazed crowd to its feet with what might be the most
music in the country.
incessantly as a parade of brilliant instrumentalists alternately
dozens of solo riffs and blended flawlessly in a two-hour program of
swing, ballads and rock -- what Kenton calls creative contemporary
and his orchestra are superb and called by some critics the best jazz
in the country: first, he has an 18-piece group of versatile musicians.
The five persons in the saxophone section all double on flute and a
doubles on an upright concert tuba, an unusual instrument for most
a string and electric bass player in his 20s picked like a fool for
five minutes on 'Intermission Riff,' a traditional Kenton tune and the
crowd went wild.
the only exceptional musician.
innovations were numerous musical confrontations of the 'Dueling
dueled each other as well as surprisingly wild combinations of flute
trombone, trumpet and saxophone and trumpet and muted trumpet. Each
who stepped to center stage earned his spot. If there was a star it had
to be either a wild hippie drummer named Peter Erskine, saxophonist
Park or any one of the glass-shattering trumpeters.
has been suffering with an ailing back and he does move slowly across
stage. But his fingers are nimble and his direction precise. The
opened with Kenton playing blues on a ballad 'What Are You Doing the
of Your Life' and swung imperceptibly into a dissonant fortissimo of
instrument in the band.
shines in musical sublteties. Their tempo changes during individual
as well as in a wide-ranging repertoire that jumps from blues to
rhythms to pop movie themes like 'The Godfather' and 'Live and Let Die.'
The band can
loud, in fact incredibly loud, but it has the ability to drop from a
orchestrated blast to a quick subito piano measure by the saxes -- and
then up again. And even when loud (rock musicians take notice) every
is there -- in time, on key and mixing with the fellow -- or girl -- in
the next chair.
The band was
and the crowd knew it, bringing them back for two encores with a
standing ovation. After playing heavier tunes earlier like 'Blues,
& Betwixt' and 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra,' the band closed the
with the swing classic 'Take the "A" Train, 'schmaltzed by a trembling
up the enthusiasm of the audience early in the evening and carried its
exuberance past the final curtain as several band members sat around
taking solitary flights, cooling down from what was a frantically paced
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TON UNLEASHES A P
HOUSE OF TALENT
There are those among us who
think that anytime Stan Kenton sets up his big band and begins playing
it is a jazz
KENTON UNLEASHES A POWERHOUSE OF TALENT
There are those among us who think that anytime Stan
Kenton sets up his big band and begins
KENTON UNLEASHES A POWERHOUSE OF TALENT
There are those
among us who think that anytime Stan Kenton sets up his big band and
playing it is a jazz festival. Thousands of us, lining both banks of
Creek in the Plaza thought so last night, as Kenton and his young
band brought the Parks and Recreation Department's summer series of
concerts to a triumphant conclusion.
festival. Thousands of
us, lining both banks of Brush Creek in the Plaza thought so last night,
as Kenton and his young 18-piece band brought the Parks and Recreation
Department's summer series of free concerts to a triumphant conclusion.
The band was
in extended order, straddling the creek beneath the Central Street
There, depending on how one feels about such things, the sound was
-- natural from the instruments close in behind the stand, backed up by
amplification and the bridge served as a natural baffle. David Beatty's
sound system provided clarity and good balance in each quadrant of the
vast area, but under the bridge it was fine and dense.
is not too bad a phrase to sum up the typical Kenton arrangement --
working out front, five screaming trumpets socking it in there, four
and tuba building a firm foundation, five eloquent reeds filling out
texture against driving rhythm of drums, congas and bass. One can get
one got. There are brilliant soloists in the Kenton organization --
Park may be one of the most complete saxophonists playing these days.
Torres is a splendid tenor saxophonist, Dick Shearer will give you
you want from a trombone. Peter Erskine at 19 plays more drums than one
can expect from a youth. Ramon Lopaz is a fiercely competent and
conga player. And then there is Kenton at the keyboard.
his group in a magisterial manner, relaxed, urbane, his minimal
mainly consisting of knowing looks. The discipline of the band is
incredible, and the sound -- ah, there is the secret, the Kenton sound.
Players come and go, they seem to get younger every years, but the
instilled in them by the thoughtful changes not.
In the solo work one
of the high spots of the evening came in 'Blues, Between and Betwixt,'
featuring Richard Torres on tenor; another came with Mary Fettig on
Dick Shearer on trombone, in 'The Peanut Vendor;' and then, any time
Park walked out front to the solo microphone it was a special time, for
he is a fine, fine alto player.
But the band
the hero of the evening, the band and its great leader, Stan Kenton. He
made his own introductions through the evening. At one point his
were interrupted by the noise of a fire engine or ambulance siren. He
and remarked: 'There goes Woody Herman.' It was a most rewarding
for a jazz buff.
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PERFORMANCE WARMLY RECEIVED
A quarter of
century ago it could be said with reasonable accuracy that there were
distinct schools of thought on the music created by Stan Kenton and his
'Artistry in Rhythm' orchestra.
loved it or they couldn't stand it; there were no gray areas, no one
neutral and arguments could rage long and loud about the man who had
to break away from the 'poop-poop-de-poop' sound that characterized
of the big bands of that era.
the 'Artistry in Rhythm' group in 1947 and as the 50s dawned fronted
bands that moved even farther away from convention with first
jazz" and then 'Innovations in Modern Music.'
This was too
even for many of Kenton's early and staunch fans, who could squirm with
delight at Eddie Meyers' tenor sax solo on 'Eager Beaver,' but were
at the alarming dissonance of his later 'City of Glass.'
a question in the minds of many who braved cold rain and wind to attend
Kenton's concert at St. Petersburg High School Thursday night.
we hear, the old, the less old, or something completely new and
long to get an answer.
now at 60 than when we last saw him in 1947, Kenton appeared much more
relaxed and seemed to be enjoying himself immensely before a
house that had given him a rousing welcoming ovation.
tune was a new one, 'Windmills of the Mind,' the piano phrasing
by the Kenton of old, the chording reminiscent of 'Willow Weep for Me.'
finally built to a crescendo with five saxes, five trumpets, five
drums, bongos, bass and piano all speaking a different but closely
language there was no mistaking the sound.
And there was a
standing round of applause, not only from the also graying, also heavier
group that loved him when, but from a surprising number of young
listeners, many of them still in their teens.
One of the
that struck us during the two-hour concert of instrumentals was the
of many of Kenton's sidemen. The No. 1 trumpet, for example, had the
of a freshly-scrubbed choir boy.
drummer (Peter Erskine), while not a Shelly Manne, reportedly is only
was the obvious delight the musicians get from their work. Some of this
probably could be ascribed to audience enthusiasm. But not all. There
a spontaneity to laughs, jokes, nods and whispers of encouragement and
applause for a particularly good solo that could not be attributed to
but the pure pleasure of performance.
having as much fun as anyone, was Kenton.
in Kenton's lead sax chair for five years during the 'Artistry in
period was in the audience and was recognized by the man in gray on
music in St. Petersburg and is a reason for Kenton's return to this
Another reason is the honorary citizenship presented him by City
reason for Kenton to come back is the hundreds who discovered Thursday
that Kenton of old hasn't disappeared. He's only been away for a while
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Los Angeles Times
KENTON AND BAND AT CONCERTS BY THE SEA
Howard Rumsey, 'the club is officially open.'
Concerts by the Sea have been in operation since August, but last
two recitals by the Stan Kenton orchestra (sold out two weeks in
had a special significance. This was the first big band to play the
and it was the band in which Rumsey first came to prominence as a bass
player 30 years ago.
reunion was a musical triumph for Kenton. Never has the band played
more stunning precision. The lead trumpeter, Dennis Noday, drove the
brass section with Herculean strength. The five trombones, as always,
the band's style with their plunging sonorities.
flashily, Kenton started with a maestoso piano solo on 'What Are You
the Rest of Your Life.' The balance of the set was well contrasted with
respect to tempos, moods and dynamic variations.
A couple of
arrangements sounded too self-important: I have never care for Kenton's
'MacArthur Park,' and found 'Tonight' too slow for comfort. But these
the exceptions. The charts, mostly by Hank Levy, were as expertly
as they were brilliantly performed. Among Levy's originals were
'Blues, Between & Betwixt' and the 5/4 'Of Space and Time.'
as unit than as a showcase for individuals, the orchestra boasts two
soloists: John Park, whose alto sax in 'Street of Dreams' was boppish,
fast and funky; and the amazing 18-year old drummer Peter Erskine, part
of a strong rhythm section with Ramon Lopez on conga and Kirby Stewart
on bass. 'The set ended with an Afro-Cuban treatment of 'Artistry in
played with high-spirited bravura.
of today's shrinking big-band scene, Kenton deserves the highest praise
for his standard bearing, and particular praise for avoiding jazz rock
or electronic compromises.
For the rest
this week, the club has Cal Tjader. Next Tuesday, Earl 'Fatha' Hines
in. But the overtones of that unique Kenton evening will take a long
to die out.
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Toronto's Palais Royale
STAN KENTON ORCHESTRA BREATHES
INTO TORONTO'S FADING PALAIS ROYALE
The Palais Royale is a
decrepit ballroom on the edge of Lakeshore Boulevard in Toronto which
looks and smells like some shoddy papier-maché invention
of a madly nostalgic Hollywood director, anxious to recreate the
cheapest possible set for a movie about the Fabled Forties. One
good shove and the whole peeling structure would float out into Lake
Ontario and dissolve in a burst of giant bubbles, Panama ceiling fans,
colored light bulbs, cracked mirrors and all.
Into this time-machine atmosphere, one
hot Tuesday evening in July, came Stan Kenton and his 19-piece
orchestra. It was their first Toronto visit in seven years, and as
the Kenton crew shambled on a stage that ordinarily accommodates a
five-piece polka group, the omens were not good. The boys in the
band hadn’t bothered with matching suits that used to be a swing-era
trademark and unlike most big band instrumentations this one had two
baritone saxophones and a tuba, for God’s sake. “Looks as if Stan
picked them up on his way through Guelph,” a small sleek man muttered.
Along with most of the 1200 Torontonians
in the hall, he had obviously come down to the Palais expecting an
evening of instant nostalgia, the recreation of the time when he was
young, 20-or-so hectic years ago. A time when everybody thought
Studebakers were the sexiest thing on the road, people were laughing at
L’il Abner, buying fountain pens (remember the Parker ’51?), listening
to the Make Believe Ballroom and worrying about teenagers’
petting. When “going steady” was a new craze, only cellists had
long hair, lipstick was bright red and kids put nickels in their
loafers, danced cheek to cheek, and The Pill (“that rules the waves”)
was a seasickness remedy.
Before the music started, you could
almost imagine through half-closed eyes that everything was the
same. The men had 'mickeys' in brown paper bags, the women stood
on the slanting terrace in summer dresses and one barely noticed that
too many of them had midriff rolls and dye jobs.
But then Stan Kenton came on stage. After
tuning the band with a stunning version of 'Rainy Day', he gave the
countdown for a rowdy version of 'Aquarius' from Hair.
Suddenly all of us stopped believing we wanted to be young again and
started feeling, quite simply, alive. Awareness had replaced
The flash, the flair, the sensuous thrust
of the Kenton sound had more than survived; it had conquered two
decades of decline in jazz to become classic. There was the brass
section blowing as if it were suspended 10 feet above the rest of
the band counter pointed by the lyricism of the saxophones,
pulling from underneath, modulating the mood. The music’s total
effect was to engulf its listeners with the same feeling of
decompression that comes after a long airplane ride.
But this was a much looser band than past
Kenton aggregations, some of which sounded as though its musicians were
reading from computer punch cards. This was a road band, airy and
free, possessed by undeniable resonance with the contemporary world
outside the dinginess of the Palais Royale. The multiple brass
climaxes, the swirl of tonal colors overlaid on haunting harmonic
patterns, the carefully paced ensemble statements glimpsed off charted
arrangements that read like pages torn from a Dostoyevsky novel,
combined into a kind of deep-mouthed empathy not so much a
remembrance of sounds past as a revelation of music’s future.
Setting up the living environment for the
Kenton sound has always been the drummer’s
assignment, and this one (John Von Ohlen, last heard backing Woody
Herman’s 103rd Herd at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1967) took his job
seriously. A square-looking gent with the air of a small-town
barber, he pushed and lifted the music with complex syncopations of
cross-rhythms, punctuating, goading, catapulting the band with an
endless variety of fill-ins, regulating its volume and intensity
according to his predetermined flight plan.
The music came down like a hailstorm and
the least excited presence in the hall was Stan Kenton
himself. The Billy Graham of jazz, he just stood there and beamed,
knowing that he could make converts effortlessly. Kenton has musical
charisma, that rare ability to fuse a collection of raw young musicians
into a polished, pulsating orchestra. He loves his craft and his
men respect him for it.
The fusion of rock and jazz he played
that night (such as a superb arrangement of Jim Webb’s 'MacArthur
Park') amply demonstrated his contention that big bands are the
ultimate form of jazz expression, because only the resources of full
orchestration can express the fury, the distance, the ultimate
loneliness of contemporary music.
Although Kenton, whose first band played
at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, California in 1941, found his
early direction from the Jimmy Lunceford style, his music quickly
matured in three directions: the polytonal inventions of Bartok and
Stravinsky; the Afro-Cuban rhythms translated for big band by Johnny
Richards; and the intricate harmonies of the great French modernist
Darious Milhaud, as adapted by Pete Rugolo. London’s Sadlers’
Wells company has experimentally choreographed some Kenton arrangements
and several French and Italian art films have been built around his
In his late middle age (he is 58), Kenton
plies his trade with rare dignity. He is determined not to become
an anachronism in a musical time he helped to create. It was
Kenton who first moved American music beyond its “polka dots and
moonbeams” phase into a meaningful rapport with the changing
fluorescent environment of the late 40s. Much of the thematic
pseudo-jazz that now backgrounds avant-garde films and
television series is derived directly from the Kenton style. He
believes that rock will eventually evolve into jazz because that’s the
only direction in which it can grow.
The young have turned music into an
expression of their defiance. You can hear them at the rock
festivals, paying homage to dissonance, and their parents have
responded with a mixture of fear and embarrassment. But Stan
Kenton's music transcends the generations, not as a music that
expresses the smugness of the balmy 1950s or the protest of the frantic
1960s but as an enduring interpretation of our changing times.
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BRASS STILL SASSY
brass wailed excitingly, but there was a tall, thin hole on stage in
Washington High School gym Monday night.
that spot has been filled by Stanley Newcomb Kenton, now 60 and home on
the West Coast, nursing an aorta ailment.
people indicated with three ovations, that they loved the Kenton
with or without its originator.
doesn't play much piano these days. And fill-in Willie Maiden, moving
from reed row, didn't play much, or well, Monday. The conducting was
by arranger Ken Hanna, 51, and lead trombonist Dick Shearer, with none
of the The Man's multi-jointed flair.
away, there was somewhat less crispness in attack and some blurring in
sectional cross voicings. But the renowned thunder was unoppressive in
the gym's wide open spaces and nicely spread across the stage.
the program sidestepped Kenton standards, except 'Peanut Vendor,' which
has become a dissonant novelty.
repertoire -- tunes by Maiden, Hanna, Bill Holman, Hank Levy and the
Johnny Richards -- also bypassed rock and its derivatives. This didn't
disappoint the young audience.
was the youth at key desks. Drummer Peter Erskine, 18, shouldered
heavy percussion duties.
Some of the
finest solos came from Bob Winiker, 20, with Kenton only two weeks, on
trumpet and flugelhorn. Shearer, reedman Quinn Davis and Richard Torres
and bassist John Worster also had moments, especially on Holman's
and Levy's 'Blues, Between & Betwixt.'
did anyone request the proffered refunds?
said Washington High's Allen Wirth, whose school jazz band opened the
'But then he stood outside and listened.'
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phrased reed choir, mellow trombones, wild congas and, of course,
artistry can only mean one man -- Stanley Newcomb Kenton.
his 18-man big band were back in the Quad-Cities for the third time
a year to drive home some of the biggest sound around today. Kenton
disappoint, but the small turnout of Quad-Citians did. But some 200 in
the Gold Rooms of the Blackhawk Hotel Tuesday night got a real full
of Kenton music, more than three hours worth.
Kenton at 61
every bit as young inn musical inventions as when he organized his
'Artistry in Rhythm' orchestra in 1941, blasting off at the Rendezvous
Ballroom in Balboa, California.
snow-topped Kenton knows how to pick young talent and his current band
is young, but thoroughly experienced. There's the recent addition of a
brilliant trumpeter Alejandro Rodriquez, plus young 19-year old drummer
Peter Erskine, bassist Pat Senatore, conga player Ramon Lopez, and Mike
Barrowman, a trumpeter who hits highs almost as fantastically as the
Maynard Ferguson, a Kenton alumnus.
the evening with his great version of 'What Are You Doing the Rest of
life,' followed by the theme from 'Live and Let Die.' Roy Reynolds,
a baritone saxman sitting in on alto sax for John Park who is
from a slight heart attack, had some great solos throughout the
particularly in 'Theme from The Godfather,' 'Street of Dreams,' and
A salute to
Ellington placed Kenton at the keyboard for 'Take the "A" Train,' which
gave Rodriguez time to shine in the muted trumpet spotlight. That
was spectacular earlier in 'Chiapas.'
is complete without some version of 'Artistry in Rhythm,' and that one
Tuesday night was a real blast off with Lopez making his usual magic on
audience more than happy with his '2001 -- A Space Odyssey,' then going
to the cool side with 'Body & Soul,' an outstanding example of full
brass interplay with the reed choir. Incidentally, all five saxmen
in flutes and did a stunning bit of fluting in 'MacArthur Park.' Tenor
sax Richard Torres was solid in 'El Cordobes.' 'Here's That Rainy Day'
had both Torres in Reynolds front and center.
night you get to hear this kind of sound, and the regrettable part of
all was that so few did!
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Orchestra at Disneyland
BAND AT DISNEYLAND
digging in on a heavy first set of strictly-for-listening music, or a
lighter set designed for dancing, Stan Kenton and his Orchestra seemed
much at ease ensconced in the Plaza Gardens at Disneyland.
This is not
suggest that ease or dynamic variety has ever been the main objective
this band. Even 'Love Story,' starting rather tediously with the leader
outlining this saccharine melody at the piano, soon builds into a
of that ageless Wagnerian bravura without which Kenton would be
though, there is a welcome interlude in which Quinn Davis on alto sax
Willie Maiden on baritone improve in casual counterpoint.
o the band's arrangers are content to let anything settle or subside;
seem to accept the postulate that working toward a climax is endemic
essential to the Kenton mystique.
On some of
Latin rhythm specialties this concept works particularly well. In
an original work, Ken Hanna concocted a dashing mix of flutes, muted
and conga, drums, the latter played by Ramon Lopez. 'Malaguena' was
such piece, in a tradition that goes all the way back to the 1940s and
'The Peanut Vendor.'
grandiloquence works less well in 'MacArthur Park,' a Dee Barton chart
in the course of which members of the band start singing in unison,
indulge in corny visual gestures as if to assure us it's all a put-on.
Moments later the brass section brings the ensemble alive in all its
In terms of
this is one of the most brilliant, tightly knit bands Kenton has ever
Concept-wise, it's a compromise; but even in compromising somewhat by
songs and arrangements of minor interest, the band tends to elevate the
average listener's sense of values.
excesses of wah-wah and electronics at one extreme and a Welkian
at the other, Kenton moves along a middle ground that has served him
jazz very well through the years.
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Band At Disneyland
SOUNDS OF THE STAN KENTON ORCHESTRA
ADD NEW DIMENSION TO THE MAGIC KINGDOM
Kenton and his orchestra introduce exciting harmonies and tone colors
youngsters previously limited to electronic mini-harmony mishmash.
accompanying parents revel in the nostalgia of the Kenton 10-man brass
sound and hear some newer, exhilarating compositions.
congas of Ramon Lopaz and the exuberant drumming of Peter Erskine, the
current Kenton crew leans heavier than ever on Latin rhythms. This
propulsion appeals to kids raised on the double time of rock. Erskine
played drums with the band for just one month. He's only 18 and a
(Kenton found him at Indiana University).
Ken Hanna and Bill Holman wrote many of the exotic, newer charts.
Maiden and trumpeter Ray Brown solo on 'A Step Beyond,' which features
some double-stopping on electric bass. 'Love Story' starts with a
statement of the tune by the maestro at the piano. Then follows the
Kenton solo trombone sound of Dick Shearer in slow Latin rhythm,
proceeds to Quinn
Davis (alto) and Willie to ad lib counterpoint and climaxes with
in the stratosphere.
has the band unison vocal-ensemble, first a Kenton trademark with
Song.' Hanna's 'Bogata' spotlights Lopez. Holman's perennial
of 'Malguena' displays the timing and confidence of Erskine.
ability to pick new musicians continues. The range, bite and precision
of this young band are absolutely remarkable.
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ROYAL LONDON WELCOME
Stan Kenton band, which played to four packed houses at Ronnie Scotts'
London, over the weekend, is something of a weird mixture.
On the one
there is the usual well drilled section work (and let's not deny that
to hear that kind of playing, regardless of the music, is still quite a
thrill, and impossible to hear from bands this side of the Atlantic),
a couple of fair soloists on flugelhorn, Bob Whittaker and alto, John
But at its
there's a rampaging lion of a drummer, Peter Erskine, who, from his
looking style and bottom-ended sounds has 'rocker' written all over
Together with conga man Ramon Lopez, particularly on the specifically
things he is a kind of rhythmic time bomb, who almost succeeds in
you believe that Kenton's music is something you do with what's going
But it's all
illusion really: the creamy trombones and two baritone saxophone solo
on 'Street of Dreams,' for example -- remember 'Opus in Pastels,'
in Rhythm,' 'Intermission Riff.' ? and so forth are, I suspect, what
fans, surprisingly middle aged, really want to hear. Or 'Tonight.'
Story,' and 'MacArthur Park' if we must have a touch of the long
Bill Holman has written some of the finest charts in big band music.
this band, he has come up with 'Malaga,' a flashy show stopper, pseudo
bull fight music that brings the house down.
survival is the name of the game, and to do it Stan has had to go back
to Balboa with a vengeance and the kind of super hip dance band that
the whole thing over thirty years ago.
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-- POWER AND GLORY
most devoted of all fans, the Kentonites, at London's Royal Festival
on Saturday evening. And they had reason for enthusiasm. For Stan
orchestra delivered a magnificent concert, reminding us that Stan is
of the last of the great & exciting American band leaders.
And like the
Duke and the present Count, Kenton has that ability to stamp his
style and sound on his men, whether seasoned old hands, or brash
sound is unequivocal. For the band is all about power, and glory. The
fanfares, roaring percussion and accelerating tempos, bring Wagnerian
to big band jazz, and you can revel in it or develop a distinct
As every jazz fan is also a jazz critic, one could hear the odd 'too
or 'not jazz,' at half-time, but the dissidents were a tiny minority
my own impression was of a superbly cohesive orchestra, playing
music, whatever the category.
And the band
play with remarkable restrained, controlled power, able to hold down
slowest tempos, and deliver the subtlest shading and tone colours. A
for the saxophone section playing as one man, was a gem of execution
silver haired and pacing slowly, but resolutely about the stage, gave
while his eager and equally composed musicians, reacted like the cream
of some highly trained cadet force. There was humour, too, when Latin
percussion was handed out for a vibrant version of the time honoured
Vendor,' cowbells and scrapers deftly hurled and caught over the heads
of the trombones.
percussion, Ramon Lopez proved a brilliant conga player with the
pair of hands I can recall seeing, and an ability to wallop and caress
that gave the oft-misused congas, a whole new stature. Peter Erskine is
a marvelous young tear away at the regular kit drums with an exuberance
that is difficult to resist, as he lifts and sparks the whole band.
soloists were somewhat uneven (the tenor work taken by British member
Reynolds), they were hampered by underpowered amplification, and the
band crescendos tended to drown them out. It is an orchestra that
men score anyway, and the solo work is an adjunct to the rich textures
employed in 'Artistry in Rhythm,' and 'Intermission Riff.'
It would be
to see the Kenton band play a rock venue, like the 'Rainbow,' for I am
sure fans of bands like ELP and 'Yes' would find plenty to enjoy and
in this explosive exciting music.
band had one fraction of the exposure accorded and expected as a right
by the most average of rock bands, then his following would quadruple
Well, that's my theory. It ain't rock 'n' roll, but thousands like it!
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KENTON & HIS ORCHESTRA AT THE TOWN HALL
once the most controversial figure in big band jazz, and in recent
he has admitted that he went too far too fast, losing many of his
on the way.
he has gone back to the period for which he is probably best
when he was first pushing back the boundaries of his area of jazz with
the band that contained -- if that is the right word -- such musicians
as Pete Rugolo, Vido Musso, Maynard Ferguson, Lee Konitz, Art Pepper
his starting point, he has gone a little way down a new path, with an
of exceptionally talented musicians who play with great discipline and
control in a style that other bands follow, but, on recent concert
with less success.
still sounds highly individualistic, however, and the return to his
of 15 years ago brings no feeling of nostalgia. Instead, it
how far ahead of his time he was, playing 'Peanut Vendor' and
again and making them sound as fresh and exciting as more recent
to the band's repertoire.
tour he may be disappointing those who expect him to push the
even further back, but he gives the impression that he is still waiting
for everyone else to catch him up.
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In Britain' CD
Britain,' recorded on February 23, 1973 at Fairfield Hall, in Croydon,
England, on the occasion of his sixty-first birthday, brings Stan
back, if not into the mainstream where he has never wanted to be,
to claim the jazz legitimacy that has never quite caught up with him.
thirty-two years of traveling with just about every format into which
jazz orchestra can be expanded, he has returned, with of all things, a
genuine road band, young and airy and free. The flash, the flair, the
thrust of the Kenton sound has more than survived' it has conquered two
decades of decline in jazz to become classic. There is the brass
five men loud and true, blowing as if they were suspended ten feet
the rest of the band, counterpointed by the lyricism of the saxophones,
pulling from underneath, modulating the mood. The broad, vibrant
the staccato phrasing, the showers of open, scalding notes engulf the
with a sense of shared loneliness which is exactly what great jazz --
Kenton's music -- is all about.
difference. The biblical cadence once so characteristic of Kenton is
Gone is the syrupy commercialism of his muddled middle years when
was sounding pointlessly fussy and decorative in a desperate attempt to
keep from becoming an anachronism in a musical time he helped to
No more compromises; no overblown sound tracks from 'Hair;' no albums
country western singer,Tex Ritter.
has returned to his roots, to depend on the intuition of the moment
night after night is all the jazz artist can really trust. On this and
five other double albums recorded with virtually the same orchestra,
manages to re-create that indefinable magic that makes the band sound
if it had been created especially to fulfill this particular one-night
stand. That's artistry of a rare calibre. All the abstracts of his
-- timing, harmony, phrasing -- have fallen into place so that the
Kenton is now playing at peeling dance halls, university auditoriums,
shopping center plazas across North America and Europe can claim that
art of surprise absent from some of his past congregations.
started as a hybrid offshoot from the rhythm machine put together by
Lunceford in the late Thirties, while Kenton's own piano style
straight from Earl Hines. His charts quickly, perhaps too quickly,
harmonic values alien to jazz, as Kenton moved toward the polytonal
of Bartok and Stravinsky, the Afro-Cuban rhythms of Johnny Richards,
the intricate harmonies of the French modernist, Darius Milhaud,
of Pete Rugolo. Then came the forty-piece Innovations orchestra which
two hours to unload out of five buses and mercifully collapsed under
after twenty-seven years with Capitol Records, Kenton left to establish
his own Creative World label which has since issued sixty-five albums.
His new works have been drawn mostly from three arrangers: Willie
the band's baritone saxophonist whose writing gives new definitions to
big-band jazz as a hot, get-it-off music; Ken Hanna, who sustains a
tension with his brooding and beautiful reflections; and Hank Levy, the
former Don Ellis arranger. By using time signature changes based on the
goading, mystical punctuations of Far Eastern, especially Indian music,
Levy's scores achieve a sense of dramatic imbalance that keeps
and musicians constantly on the edge of about-to-be-fulfilled
of Levy's experiments are featured on this album. In 'Ambivalence,'
Galuman's flute dances above the loose clusters of sound (played in 5/4
time) until the band switches into a 20/16 tempo cascading behind the
of John Park's alto. In 'Blues, Between & Betwixt' Levy extends the
blues form into alternating 7/4 and 7/8 time with Peter Erskine's drums
propelling the band along its predetermined flight plan, while Richard
Torres blows macho salute on his tenor. 'Of Space and Time' (written in
5/4 time) is the album's most exciting track, with each of the
sections fanning in and out in a kind of inexorable succession of
to the proposition that with enough talent and commitment jazz
however intricate, can produce an ensemble sound that just plain
The Bill Holman arrangement of 'Daily Dance' turns out to be an
draining hailstorm of sound which provides an object lesson in the arts
of collective improvisation. What Kenton has always demanded of his
is that they broaden the harmonic, rhytmic, and structural boundaries
the band's charts, so that they follow not only the letter but the
of the composer's intent. This is more difficult than it sounds because
the more conventional styules of jazz require only that a composition
a musician's own ruminations.
impressive and unusual about this particular Kenton band is that
(or could it be because of) their leader's high expectations, it's a
group of musicians, and they sound like it; nineteen kindred spirits
to convince their audiences and themselves that in big-band jazz the
can be greater than the sum of its parts. The happy mood is infectious.
(Kenton opened one recent concert, recorded on the Phase-4 London
by excusing his informality: 'We usually come on stage and the band
about ten fanfares before I come on; then I'm wheeled on in a chariot;
sometimes I use a bicycle . . .' -- then broke up as he gave the
for the opening number.)
Kenton ensembles, which evoked the sterile perfection of musicians
their arrangements off punched IBM cards, this one sounds as if the
were pages torn out of a late Dostoevski novel. The pillows of sound
the swirl of tonal colors combine into a kind of deep-mouthed empathy
not so much a remembrance of sounds past as a revelation of jazz's
(The LP was mastered directly from the original 2-track 1/4" 3M 207
tape, with no limiting, no echo added, no high-pass (bass) cutoff used
and only minor equalization added. Unlike other new Kenton releases,
album is not available in quadraphonic (SQ) sound but recording quality
is superb throughout.)
Late in his
age, Stan Kenton has come home at last, plying his craft with dignity
humor, a man and a musician firmly in command of his worth.
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Interview in Big Band Jump
In an interview that Stan Kenton gave with 'Big Band
Jump' in 1977 he commented about his music. He was asked about
'nostalgia.' "Well I think nostalgia is certainly the most commercial
commodity in every way. People somehow are always looking back and I
think there's a psychological problem there. I think they feel they've
made it through one part of their life and they're afraid of today and
tomorrow so they want to go back and relive the past again.
"So many programs on television and radio and that
sort of thing are based upon the appeal that nostalgia has that the
American people are no different than anybody else. The same thing is
probably true throughout the rest of the world. But I think that people
who are constantly living in the past are really missing out on
something. They're missing the excitement of what's going on in the
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Pasadena Star News
May 20, 1996
FANS OF JAZZ GREAT STAN KENTON GATHER
More than 200 fans of such jazz classics as 'Artistry
in Rhythm' and 'Intermission Riff' came out on Sunday to commemorate
the late Stan Kenton and his Orchestra.
Musicians and jazz aficionados gathered at the
Monrovia Holiday Inn to pore over old photographs, watch vintage film
footage and listen to a live orchestra composed of many former band
"It's an era," said Pasadena resident Gloria
Armstrong. 'It's our years of growing up. That's all there was -- Stan
Kenton -- and we loved him. Dancing to his music was great!"
Though Stan Kenton and his Orchestra reached their
peak of fame in the 1940s and 1950s, they continued to thrill audiences
until a year before Kenton's death in 1979. And though Kenton performed
in the Big Band era of Glenn Miller and Woody Herman, some consider his
compositions to be more cutting edge. 'It was wild stuff iin its time"
said Burbank resident Milt Bernhart, who performed with Kenton from
1948 to 1952. "It wasn't designed to make the crowd happy. It was
designed to make them listen."
The Stan Kenton club memorial began in 1989, when
Armstrong and her husband, Don, invited 10 people to eat pizza and
commemorate Kenton's music. The event grew until it had to be moved to
the Pasadena Cafeteria, and then to the Holiday Inn.
"Can you imagine this in the family room?" said Gloria
Armstrong, surveying the crowd. Some fans wore polo shirts with the
message "Artistry in Rhythm,' the name of Kenton's popular 1942 hit.
The Orchestra typically traveled 500 miles each day by bus and as soon
as a gig ended, Kenton drove to the next town to promote the next
performance on early-morning radio.
But Mollie Bert, whose husband, Eddie, played trombone
with the Orchestra said Kenton also provided something unheard of in
other orchestras: a bus for the wives of band members. "Eddie wasn't
one of those musicians who stayed on the road for a year or so. "That's
why we're still married," Bert said. Glendale resident Mike Pacheco,
who played with Kenton from 1959 to 1962, performed with vocalist Peggy
Lee as well as Perez Prado. "But working with Stan was the epitome of
my performing life," he said.
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