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Thread: All things Stan Kenton

  1. #16
    Player to be named later duaneiac's Avatar
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    This past Saturday night, I attended a concert performance by the Stan Kenton Alumni Band under the leadership of Mike Vax. Kenton specifically did not want a "ghost band" to exist after his death (in the way that Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey "ghost bands" existed after the demise of their respective leaders), so this band, made up largely of Kenton alumni, plays some of the charts from the Kenton band, plus some originals and some new arrangements done in a Kenton fashion.

    Here's the set list from Sat. night as compiled by saxophonist/arranger Kim Richmond:

    Saturday, April 21, Santa Clara University-

    First Set:
    Baubles, Bangles and Beads (Lennie Niehaus arrangement)
    Softly As I Leave You (Dale DeVoe arrangement)
    You're Everything (Chick Corea composition, Dale DeVoe arrangement)
    In a Sentimental Mood (John Boice arrangement, Carl Saunders trumpet feature)
    This is the End of a Beautiful Frienship (Rick Stitzel arrangement)
    Cheek to Cheek (Scott Whitfield arrangement, feature for Scott and Ginger Berglund vocals)
    Our Garden (Bob Florence composition, Scott Whitfield arrangement, feature for Scott and Ginger Berglund vocals)
    Memories of You (from Ted Heath Band, feature for Dennis Noday and Mike Vax, trumpets)
    Peanut Vendor

    Second Set:
    Artistry in Rhythm (Kim Richmond arrangement)
    Intermission Riff
    Willow Weep for Me (Kim Richmond arrangement, feature for Kim on saxophone)
    You're So Cute (Carl Saunders composition, Scott Whitfield arrangement, feature for Scott and Ginger Berglund vocals)
    Stockholm Sweetning (Scott Whitfield arrangement, feature for Scott and Ginger Berglund vocals)
    Reed Rapture (Stan Kenton arrangement, saxophone section feature)
    Chico and the Man (Vincent Lopez arrangement, Mike Vax trumpet feature
    Joint Tenancy (comp/arr by Steve Huffsteter, trumpet feature for Steve and Don Rader)
    Malaguena

    The trumpet section was composed entirely of Kenton alumni and Vax said the average age of that section was 71. But man, can they still blow! Carl Saunders was incredible on his feature piece, playing things that should tax the limits of a player half his age. Each of the trumpeters had spots to shine and on "Peanut Vendor" each of them strolled down from the stage and up the aisles into the audience still playing as if to say, "Microphones! We don' need no stinkin' microphones!"

    It was a great evening of music. Part of the pleasure came from actually feeling the impact of this music. I mean feeling the vibrations viscerally, especially from the double bari saxes on "Baubles" and the occasionally used bass saxophone and certainly the impact of the trumpets on "Malaguena". I never saw the Kenton band in person, so this was the next best thing.

    Hats off the Mike Vax and Co. for doing their damnedest to keep the music of Stan Kenton alive.
    Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
    I ache in the places where I used to play
    And I'm crazy for love, but I'm not coming on
    I'm just paying my rent every day
    In the Tower of Song -- Leonard Cohen

  2. #17
    Player to be named later duaneiac's Avatar
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    A message from Peter Erskine sent to an online Kenton newsgroup:

    "Hello everyone. Here is a listing of the musicians who will be playing in the tribute to Stan Kenton and his music as part of the Hollywood Bowl concert on August 8 (at 8 pm).

    > KENTON'S 100TH - THE STAN CENTENNIAL ORCHESTRA
    > Alto Saxophone:
    > Dan Higgins
    > Brian Scanlon
    > Tenor Saxophone:
    > Bob Sheppard
    > John Yoakum
    > Baritone Saxophone:
    > Greg Huckins
    >
    > Trombone:
    > Andy Martin
    > Alan Kaplan
    > Alex Iles
    > Bass Trombone:
    > Craig Gosnell
    > Bass Trombone/Tuba:
    > Bill Reichenbach
    >
    > Trumpet:
    > Wayne Bergeron
    > Dan Fornero
    > Larry Hall
    > Carl Saunders
    > Larry Lunetta
    >
    > Piano:
    > Christian Jacob
    > Bass:
    > Chuck Berghofer
    > Drums:
    > Peter Erskine
    > Latin Percussion:
    > Alex Acuna
    > Percussion:
    > Wade Culbreath
    > Aaron Serfaty
    >
    > French Horn:
    > Steve Becknell
    > Nathan Campbell
    > Brad Warnaar
    > Phil Yao
    >
    > Orchestra Contractor:
    > Brian Miller

    The music should prove to be spectacular: a wonderful program (Bob Curnow and I did have some input there) including a Neophonic piece ("Fanfare") plus some Johnny Richards charts from "Cuban Fire" and "West Side Story" ... a couple of things form the Jean Turner songbook ... Willie Maiden's "Minor Booze" and a couple of chestnuts +/or surprises."
    Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
    I ache in the places where I used to play
    And I'm crazy for love, but I'm not coming on
    I'm just paying my rent every day
    In the Tower of Song -- Leonard Cohen

  3. #18
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    Stan Kenton received recognition from the Library of Congress in May when "Artistry In Rhythm" was named to the National Recording Registry along with 24 other historically important audio recordings in this year's choices.
    http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2012/12-107.html
    The press release states "That Stan Kenton led a jazz orchestra, not a dance band, is obvious from the first notes of "Artistry in Rhythm." This was no smooth, melodic song intended for swaying couples in the big-band ballrooms, but a complex jazz concert piece. Though he composed the song in 1941, Kenton was unable to record it until 1943 because of the recording ban imposed by the American Federation of Musicians over royalty payments. The music stood out then and its freshness remains obvious to listeners today. Arranged as well as composed by Kenton, "Artistry in Rhythm" exhibits traits that are typical of his work—an aggressive sound, innovative for the layering of one section of the orchestra playing over another, then another layer over both. As one reviewer observed, Kenton’s music "was always controversial, but never sleepy." "
    There are currently 350 pieces inclued in the registry (25 are added each year) so Kenton is in rarefied company. There are about 50 jazz entries on the list. I am not sure that "Artistry in Rhythm" is among the 50 most important jazz songs, but I always enjoyed it. Interestingly, there is another entry, "El Manisero" by Rita Montaner, which is probably my favorite piece by Kenton, who performs it as "The Peanut Vendor".
    Just to be clear, the SONG is called "The Peanut Vendor", not Kenton!

  4. #19
    Player to be named later duaneiac's Avatar
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    On his Jazz Wax blog, Marc Myers talks with Bill Holman about former Kenton bassist Don Bagley who passed away last week at age 85.

    http://www.jazzwax.com/2012/08/bill-...on-bagley.html
    Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
    I ache in the places where I used to play
    And I'm crazy for love, but I'm not coming on
    I'm just paying my rent every day
    In the Tower of Song -- Leonard Cohen

  5. #20
    Player to be named later duaneiac's Avatar
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    East Coast Encores --Stan Kenton.

    There are dozens of bootleg recordings of the Kenton band available. This one, released last year, is a pretty good one. It contains 3 NBC radio broadcast from Nov. 1952 when the band was appearing at the Rustic Cabin in NJ. The band at that time included Lee Konitz, Maynard Ferguson, Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino, Bobby Burgess, Bill Holman and Stan Levey. Sound quality is quite good.
    Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
    I ache in the places where I used to play
    And I'm crazy for love, but I'm not coming on
    I'm just paying my rent every day
    In the Tower of Song -- Leonard Cohen

  6. #21
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    Have you ever met Kenton?

    I am thrilled to be able to converse about Kenton,however I think that you missed some of band,s best sides.As to comparing him to Duke Ellington is a joke,Duke had a nice orchestra, with no imagination or fire,Closer might be Count Basie, close but no Kenton.As for Hadju Typical critic with no concept or clue about music. I am Brewski,a true Kenton fan. By the way have you heard any of his later renditions?

  7. #22
    AAJ Mickle Heidyin
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    Hi brewski!

    Well, everyone has an opinion! And you clearly have very strong feelings, both about Stan and (less favourably) most other band/leaders you regard as no match for him.


    I suppose this is likely to mean you like high excitement, possibly a lot of high trumpet (?), rich highly-arranged textures, and perhaps an orchestral sound basically as big and "panoramic" as possible?

    You'll understand we don't all like the same things, and others may have different tastes, preferences, priorities. Some like it cool. Some like it different.


    I'm just wondering, based on what you've said, if you also like Maynard Ferguson (and his band)?

    What about the drummer-led big bands - Louie Bellson, Gene Krupa - also Lionel Hampton's (sometimes very) big orchestra?

    Are you no fan of older bands - Cab Calloway, say? A lot of power there.

    And what of Quincy Jones, in the late 50s? Very arranged, though not as vehement.

    And Gil Evans? His arrangements for Miles had quite a bit of "Stan" about them. And he did dense arrangements.

    I'm surprised you don't really go for Duke at all, especially immediately post-War, when his band reached maximum size and he blew loud.

    Dizzy's "Things To Come"??

    Roy Porter's 1949 band ("Black California" anthology)?

    Mingus, "Pre-Bird"?

  8. #23
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    Made brewski happy.

    Bless you heart,yes I am a Kenton Zealot ,stood in front of the bandstand to listen every time he was in town or close by.Sorry I never heard that side of the Duke,in reference to blaring I guess you are reference to what I called Stans orgasms.You never mentioned any of the later stuff:Back To Balboa,In london,Standards in silh....t (forgot how to spell that). Some of the offerings that really moved me were:The Big Chase , Willow Weep For Me. Later on, Mc Arthur Park,was a masterpiece And the very romantic and lyrical Heres That Rainy Day.Other big bands close to my heart are Shorty Rogers and his giants,Ted Heath,Gil Evans, and Count Basiey. I am so happy that we found each other,lets keep in touch and list each other as friends. Almost forgot this "It was the best of bands,it was the worst of bands.It was the pure tommy-rot of pretention,it was the soul of soaring unselfconsciousness,it was the stuff of swing,it was a egomaniacs demented dream of pompousness,it was as light as Basie and as heavy as Beethoven,it was indulgent and estatic,funeral, and joyful.It was,in short a band like no other. This, God damn it ,was an orchestra THUS SPAKE KENTON" Stay in touch, brewski....

  9. #24
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    Kenton thanks

    Thanks,PeterCS,Jason Michael,Duuneiac, Is it okay to list you as friends?

  10. #25
    AAJ Mickle Heidyin
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    I've certainly no objection, brewski ... though I've never tended to use that facility myself, on this or other forums.

    Simply because there are enough clicks, nooks and crannies in forums to remember already.

    More importantly perhaps, I feel that "friend is as friend does". Contributors develop friendships and kinships with some others in the natural course of posting/reading/responding (sometimes also people they, on balance, are perhaps more inclined to steer away from, but that's the same for anyone: the rough with the smooth).

    Anyway, personally I don't usually feel a need to attach the labels! But it's good if people do what they prefer - "as long as it does not scare the horses", as the old saying goes.

  11. #26
    AAJ Mickle Heidyin
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    And re: Stan:

    You're right, I don't really know much of Kenton's later-years output. It's more the best-known sides, including "This is an orchestra!" The main thing I was listening for when I heard those tracks was how Lee Konitz came across. (Konitz is a big favourite of mine. Amazingly still blowing strong at the age of 88 - seeing him in London with Dave Douglas this weekend, in fact!) At the time, his decision to join Stan was met with surprise. First, he thought of as the star pupil of the Tristano School - small or very small bands, massively complex melodically cross-weaving themes and solos, tight arrangements, and not least, considered intellectual to the point of excess (by detractors, that is: that joke about "Where's Svengali?"). And second, "Palo Alto" was known for a relatively quiet, almost "innocent" tone and subtle legato approach. So how would he cope in Big Brass Megopolis? How would he even be HEARD?

    Well, Konitz was of course underrated, and stereotyped, by those who were so surprised. He rose to the challenge all right. (It was perhaps forgotten that prior to Tristano he had played in another large orchestra - Claude Thornhill's - so he was not exactly a big band virgin.) Being in Kenton's band - not for very long, but with meritorious results - WAS important for Lee in toughening up his tone as required, and starting to take more risks in his attack.

    A process he was to take a couple of steps further in a famous session in a trio with Elvin Jones and Sonny Dallas for Verve ("Motion-Lee", 1961) - but that takes us beyond the present theme.

  12. #27
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    Konitz.

    Never given his due. Amen,Keep blowin Lee.

  13. #28
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    City Of Glass

    Quote Originally Posted by duaneiac View Post
    I wouldn't consider it to be representative of Kenton's work at all. In some ways, I guess it does reflect his constant quest to keep his band's music sounding new and different from all other bands. But it is more a showcase for Graettinger's work than it is an example of what the Kenton band would typically play. This CD is in my collection, but it's not one I play often.
    Great workout for the band,Too much dissonance , some mindless chord progressions,once was enough for me.

  14. #29
    AAJ's Spammer Exterminator Tenorman's Avatar
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    I think one of Kenton's greatest contributions to the wider world of Jazz was the musicians he nurtured and sent out into the world. The founding members of the "West Coast" sound. When I go through my collection, albums by Gerry Mulligan, Bob Brookmeyer, Bob Florence, Lee Konitz, Shorty Rogers, Howard Rumsey, etc. make up a sizeable proportion of my collection, alongside British Jazz and the many vocalists that I admire.

    If it hadn't have been for Stan there would have been no Lighthouse, and if the lighthouse hadn't existed as a major jazz venue ...........

    Birth Controller to the Jazz Community. (click on the underlined text for more information)

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