Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Teasing the Korean

THE CREATIVE WORLD OF STAN KENTON

111 posts in this topic

IMO Kenton certainly did evolve by his own terms and he firmly believed in what he did. Which should be fair enough as a basis at least tolerate him, even for those who are confirmed non-Kentonians (considering how many others whose jazz is rather far out in their own way too are still lauded for sticking to doing what they believe in and nothing else). There should be room and space for lots of different streams of jazz within the huge river of jazz, and one man's pompousness (not my kind of favorite Kenton either, BTW, but often I think I see his point) is another man's screeching. ;)

I wholeheartedly agree with your statements BBS!

The Kenton band & sound DID evolve and change over the years/decades as new members/composers/arrangers came into the band. The Kenton bands of the 1950's were as different from his band of the 1940's as were those of Basie or Ellington, and his bands of the late 1960's and 1970's were different as well. I think the most notable evolution was that towards the prominence of the trombone section once Kai Winding joined the band. Thereafter, the trombone section remained the backbone of the Kenton band's sound. It may not have always had the big name soloists like the sax section did, but the trombones were the heart and soul of the Kenton sound.

In the vast recorded legacy of Stan Kenton, which includes dozens of albums and an untold number of "live" recordings which have seen the light of day as reissues, I'm positive there is some music any jazz fan, particularly any who enjoy big band jazz, could appreciate if they gave it a chance. But for some reason, Stan Kenton seems to be the one artist jazz fans feel they can dismiss out of hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should clarify that I am actually happy that Kenton stuck to his principles, because those albums reflect the period so nicely.


But for some reason, Stan Kenton seems to be the one artist jazz fans feel they can dismiss out of hand.

In my experience, even Kenton's biggest fans criticize him on some level or another.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience, even Kenton's biggest fans criticize him on some level or another.

Which goes to show that Kenton's fans (among whom I modestly count myself too, if that point needed to be made at all ;)) are above the blinded "can do now wrong" idolatry that fans of other musicians (jazz or not) indulge in. :lol:

And like TTK put it correctly, nothing wrong with music reflecting a specific period nicely.

Echoes of an era ... ;)

Edited by Big Beat Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, Kenton's biggest fans do criticize his work on various levels and that is as it should be. I don't think there is a Kenton fan (or a jazz fan) around who would defend the album he made with Tex Ritter and there are lots of opinions about City of Glass or the Wagner album, for example. Many fans have their particular favorite editions or eras of the band.

However, there doesn't seem to be much criticism of the man himself. I belong to an online Kenton discussion group which includes some former band members as well as lots of fans who heard the band in person on one or more occasions. Seeing & hearing that band "live" seems to have akin to a religious experience to many of them and Kenton the man must have been extremely personable and the ultimate schmoozer. The former band members all seem to be fiercely loyal to his memory.

If I may criticize the man, clearly he had a drinking problem. He wasn't anything special as a pianist, nor was he particularly prolific as a composer and arranger. But he did have an artistic vision and he was able to lead his bands of loyal men across several decades in constant pursuit of his vision. He was able to hire and develop some fine composer/arrangers -- Shorty Rogers, Bill Holman, Gene Roland, Bill Russo, Pete Rugolo, Johnny Richards, Dee Barton, among them -- but if their work, as good as it might have been, did not coincide with his musical ambitions, it simply did not make it into the band's book.

On a sidenote, after my Grandma passed away, I was helping my Mom go through some of her things. In her piano bench there were a few 78s. My Grandma was a die-hard fan of TV's The Lawrence Welk Show and wouldn't think of missing it each week. So I was not surprised to find Perry Como and The Andrews Sisters among her 78's, but was quite surprised to find Stan Kenton there. I think it was "Across The Alley From The Alamo", but I'm not sure now. But at least Mr. Kenton got a one time :tup from Grandma.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ra was about getting away from this world to get to a different one that surely must exist, because this one is built on death.

Kenton was about staying here and manufacturing better new things, because there was nothing wrong with this one that couldn't be fixed by manufacturing it in a more new modern way, so we could keep on keeping on in this, our ever shinier, ever newer, ever better version of the eternal here for the eternal modern tomorrow.

Portraits On Standards is one of the best big band albums ever. Hair is one of the best desperation albums ever. The Graettinger stuff is some of the best Be-Careful-What-You-Ask-For music of the 20th Century. Live At Redlands University is one of the best comeback records ever. And so on.

And in between, there were more good to great records, great to greater bands, and some noble failed attempts, and some truly ignoble sucky failures.

But yes, there were always trombones, always. And I have come to really dig that about Kenton, those five bones, with bass trombone(s) (and sometimes tuba) at the bottom, that was a sound, always. I started a Dick Shearer thread here for good cause!

But Kenton himself...not so much a vision as a set of executable neurosis that he harnessed into an executable style, a "concept" if you will that he could always find willing and able high-level (usually...) recruits to execute to everybody's mutual satisfaction. And I don't meant that as a did, either, just that when I say that I keep Stan Kenton in my jazz section, it's not because I think he's playing the same games rooted in the same impulses to the same ends as as many/most of the other people I keep there. I keep it there because that's the medium he was using to play his own games.

I used to love the music. Then I hated it. Then I wasn't sure. Then I got to where I could go case-by-case. Now, it's just...it's never going to be what I myself really want as fare as a life partner, but I think I've made it final and lasting peace that it was what it was it was always going to be taht, o don't get up set for it because of that. Fish gotta swim, birds gota fly, Kenton gotta Kenton.

Tell you what - there are some moments, often in some unlikely places, where it all comes together, and then you got something. Right now, the version of "Girl Talk" from The World We Knew is running though my mind...imagine an Ahmad Jamal/Vernel Fournier type beat used, not as a springboard for a groove, but as a basis for mathematical extrapolation, the point around which all the other maths revolve. And then bring in all these totally objective melodies in not so objective colors played with their individual maths as being the only thing that matters - colors saying one thing, maths saying another. When it works, and here, it definitely works, and it's something you're only going to hear on a Stan Kenton record.

So...points and props for the lifetime that contained those moments. All the other stuff, hey. Kenton be Kenton. Deal with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ra was about getting away from this world to get to a different one that surely must exist, because this one is built on death.

Kenton was about staying here and manufacturing better new things, because there was nothing wrong with this one that couldn't be fixed by manufacturing it in a more new modern way, so we could keep on keeping on in this, our ever shinier, ever newer, ever better version of the eternal here for the eternal modern tomorrow.

Beautifully said, Jim. Now - when all this was going on, where was reality? With Ornette, Rollins, Herbie Nichols, for ex.?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RUGOLO AND GRAETTINGER GOOD!!!

JOHNNY RICHARDS GOOD MOST OF THE TIME!

HOLMAN AND RUSSO, HIT OR MISS, BUT WITH LOTS OF PONDEROUS UNLISTENABLE STUFF ALONG THE WAY!

Edited by Teasing the Korean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dee Barton.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotta add Gene Roland...Adventures In Blues, one of the greatest WTF? records ever, relative to time/place/people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotta add Gene Roland...Adventures In Blues, one of the greatest WTF? records ever, relative to time/place/people.

Second that one. My favorite Kenton record! "Reuben's Blues" is a great track, but the whole album is wonderful.

gregmo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotta add Gene Roland...Adventures In Blues, one of the greatest WTF? records ever, relative to time/place/people.

Second that one. My favorite Kenton record! "Reuben's Blues" is a great track, but the whole album is wonderful.

gregmo

Agreed. Terrific record. And Side A of an album recorded at the same time, "Adventures in Jazz". Side B not as good, but side A - holy cow, just about as good as anything ever recorded by a modern big band. Turtle Talk, Stairway to the Stars, Limehouse Blues, Malaguena. Awesome big band jazz IMHO.

And Live at Redlands U., man. Talk about atmosphere. A band playing its collective a** off, as if the world depended on getting it right. And it did, in a way. The success of that album and that band was the basis of the whole 70's Creative World thing that Kenton did, basically on his own nut without support from a major label.

Edited by John Tapscott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

***

***

***

one might say Ralph Carichael "only" reinforces the brilliance of Galt Macdermot, Rado & Ragni but...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jack Sheldon's on that record, and is not wasted, except when he's not used.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love records by aging jazz and easy listening artists who are tuning in and turning on to the moods and vibrations of today. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Teasing the Korean said:

I love records by aging jazz and easy listening artists who are tuning in and turning on to the moods and vibrations of today. 

:P   That said (!), are "Hair" and "Kenton/Wagner" the only Kenton Capitols that have never been reissued on cd?

 

 

gregmo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

That "Girl Talk" just works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, gmonahan said:

:P   That said (!), are "Hair" and "Kenton/Wagner" the only Kenton Capitols that have never been reissued on cd?

gregmo

I wouldn't know.  Stan Kenton is a dollar bin artist for me.  I will happily pluck his albums for a buck a throw on either LP or CD, but I have no idea what is or is not available in what format.  

As for the Wagner album, I paid a dollar, played it once, and dragged it right back to the thrift store. 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked the Wagner album, actually. It was mostly a lot quieter than I expected.

9 hours ago, gmonahan said:

Oh, already have them. I've had Massive Ambivalence about The Creative World for decades now, going back to Initial Indoctrination in 1970 and Full Deprogramming by 1975. Finally decided to confront it head-on and just bought the shit out of Stan Kenton records, legit and otherwise, a few years ago. Still have the Massive Ambivalence, but have accepted it as a Fact Of Life now, no longer conflicted, just accepting, totally comfortable with that, free at last.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, gmonahan said:

:P   That said (!), are "Hair" and "Kenton/Wagner" the only Kenton Capitols that have never been reissued on cd?

 

 

gregmo

I don't think the Neophonic recordings or the Kenton/Tex Ritter album have ever been officially reissued by Capitol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Neophonic made it to CD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somewhat unexpectedly spent all morning listening to Kenton broadcasts at the great AllThingsKenton webpage

http://allthingskenton.com/table_of_contents/radio_broadcasts/

dozens of broadcasts, mostly from the early 50s, nicely documented with line-ups, arrangers and soloists... started out looking for the Dave Schildkraut solos and then went on and on... highly recommended!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.