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remembering the monstrous stan kenton


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#61 JSngry

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 06:40 PM

Yeah, here we go. Bill Holman delivers!


Edited by JSngry, 22 December 2011 - 06:49 PM.


#62 JSngry

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 06:48 PM

how can you not like a guy who had Lee Konitz and Dave Schildkraut in the same sax section (though Triglia told me he preferred Konitz)? And at least Kenton did his own hiring, got on the phone and called everybody himself.

that's admirably hands-on.


It's not about liking him, it's about liking the music of the band. And that gets pretty hard sometimes...often...usually...

I do know that Konitz has been open in his thankfulness for the gig and the financial needs it met for him and his family at the time, probably the same for Schildkraut.. So, yeah, nice guy, don't know of anybody who disliked him as a leader and no doubt he was quite the hands-on type!

#63 Big Beat Steve

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 06:24 AM

As for the "Mellophonium orchestra", I can only recommend a listen to the 1962 transcriptions of that band released in the "The Uncollected" series ("Stan Kenton Vol. 6") on the Hindsight label. Pleasantly swinging, straightforward and non-bombastic within the framework of the brass-heavy big bands of that era.

#64 Quasimado

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 07:11 AM


how can you not like a guy who had Lee Konitz and Dave Schildkraut in the same sax section (though Triglia told me he preferred Konitz)? And at least Kenton did his own hiring, got on the phone and called everybody himself.

that's admirably hands-on.


It's not about liking him, it's about liking the music of the band. And that gets pretty hard sometimes...often...usually...

I do know that Konitz has been open in his thankfulness for the gig and the financial needs it met for him and his family at the time, probably the same for Schildkraut.. So, yeah, nice guy, don't know of anybody who disliked him as a leader and no doubt he was quite the hands-on type!


As more and more recordings of the live dates become available from that period (I have about 8, and there are more) it's obvious how well Lee adapted to the Kenton environment, resulting in some of the greatest alto features for big band that I have had the pleasure of hearing. I'm extremely grateful to Stanley for that.
Q

#65 AllenLowe

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 09:47 AM

also, according to Triglia, Kenton ultimately did not like Schildkraut's playing and preferred Konitz; if one listens to a some of the "live" stuff from the '53 tour (which had Bird on it), through some kind of weird osmosis, Konitz clearly sounds like some of Dave's rhythm stuff is rubbing off.

according to Schildkraut's wife, he didn't want to do that tour (Dave turned down everybody, including Norman Granz and Dizzy Gillespie); when Kenton called, she got on the extension (because they were broke) and said, "Mr. Kenton, he'll be there." Davey obeyed her.

#66 MomsMobley

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 10:27 AM

lesser known (?), later Kenton masterpiece: Plays The Compositions of Dee Barton--

http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/B000RPCEQQ

I can't speak on the alleged differences between vinyl and cd masters but the latter sounds fine; I knew Barton's work with Eastwood but not really followed it back.

Q: how many accomplished trombonist/drummer/composers are there?

Also, the great importance and achievement of Kenton + X, Y, Z is his insistence on the potentialities of jazz composition + musicianship: that Braxton could get endless inspiration from Kenton is plain; that listeners experienced in 20th c. classical idioms are more likely to be interested in this than pop/rock people is also self-evident. Villa Lobos lives!

Also, re: the great Johnny Richards, Adventures In Time is a mind-fuck, still

http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/B000005H8M

Is it still LOUD also? Sometimes. It's a climax!

also, according to Triglia, Kenton ultimately did not like Schildkraut's playing and preferred Konitz; if one listens to a some of the "live" stuff from the '53 tour (which had Bird on it), through some kind of weird osmosis, Konitz clearly sounds like some of Dave's rhythm stuff is rubbing off.

according to Schildkraut's wife, he didn't want to do that tour (Dave turned down everybody, including Norman Granz and Dizzy Gillespie); when Kenton called, she got on the extension (because they were broke) and said, "Mr. Kenton, he'll be there." Davey obeyed her.



#67 JSngry

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 11:08 AM

lesser known (?), later Kenton masterpiece: Plays The Compositions of Dee Barton--


Masterpiece? Really? I've had that one for about 40 years now, and it's pretty much the same handful of somewhat slight ideas over and over. He makes it all "sound good", but there's a not a whole helluva lot of filling in that pie.

Q: how many accomplished trombonist/drummer/composers are there?


As many as there need to be. Maybe more!

also, according to Triglia, Kenton ultimately did not like Schildkraut's playing and preferred Konitz; if one listens to a some of the "live" stuff from the '53 tour (which had Bird on it), through some kind of weird osmosis, Konitz clearly sounds like some of Dave's rhythm stuff is rubbing off.


Also, as Konitz' time with the band goes on, you can hear the changes in his tone...it gets harder and brighter. Don't know if that was by choice, out of necessity, or a bit of both.

Lennie said it (Konitz' tone) was "ruined", and I can see why he would think that, but hell, Lee would go on to play with the Varitone, so, so much for that!

#68 Larry Kart

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 12:20 PM

Maybe I'm an idiot -- no, don't answer that -- but I find Kenton's own charts on the 1958 album "The Ballad Style of Stan Kenton" (if they are indeed his charts, as billed) to be seductive and intriguing, though one of the chief points of interest for me, the flowing, slow-motion writing for sax section, may owe or may not a debt to the Ralph Burns of "Summer Sequence" and "Early Autumn."

Not a masterpiece, but the work of a significant and AFAIK individual voice. The Kenton "sensibility," if you will, counts for something -- however disparate (bombast-aggression, pretentiousness, Graettinger, ballroom 'tenderness," Holman-esque swing, et al.) its various parts may be. Take away Kenton from his time, and it wouldn't have been that time. The cultural historian in me takes account of that.

#69 JSngry

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 12:50 PM

I find those charts clumsy, repetitive, formulaic, and stultifying. Definitely Kenton's charts. That's another record I listen to praying that it be over as soon as possible. If that's "romance", gee, no wonder nobody falls in love any more!

Far better is Sophisticated Approach arranged by Niehaus. Still formulaic (as are all/most post-Swing Era "jazz" bands overtly "dance band" albums, Ellington's Indigos being the exception that mor or less proves the rule), but flowing and actually "romantic" in a significantly less....creepy way than Kenton's. Plus, you get some Sam Donahue playing with even more air in his tone than Ben Webster!

The cultural historian in me has to deal with all varieties of unpleasant things I'd rather not have in my own world. That's why I keep it on a strict curfew. Cultural history has neither taste nor conscience, nor should it.

People, on the other hand...

#70 MomsMobley

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 06:22 PM

within certain bounds-- '60s big band-- yes, it's continually inventive, superbly realized; go back to "Dilemma" especially.

which i'll rate that as hot as any Jones/Lewis chart (say) even without Billy Harper present to elevate it. Ray Reed (alto) and Jay Daversa are themselves especially impressive.

whether or not certain ideas repeated-- but isn't that "style" too? how many Riddle/May/Paich/Nelson charts could we cut/paste on different tunes?

who says we need "go" anywhere? this goes back to classical dialectic of "thematic development" versus "sound" btw.

if it's a hair pie, YOU are the filling!


lesser known (?), later Kenton masterpiece: Plays The Compositions of Dee Barton--


Masterpiece? Really? I've had that one for about 40 years now, and it's pretty much the same handful of somewhat slight ideas over and over. He makes it all "sound good", but there's a not a whole helluva lot of filling in that pie.

Q: how many accomplished trombonist/drummer/composers are there?


As many as there need to be. Maybe more!

also, according to Triglia, Kenton ultimately did not like Schildkraut's playing and preferred Konitz; if one listens to a some of the "live" stuff from the '53 tour (which had Bird on it), through some kind of weird osmosis, Konitz clearly sounds like some of Dave's rhythm stuff is rubbing off.


Also, as Konitz' time with the band goes on, you can hear the changes in his tone...it gets harder and brighter. Don't know if that was by choice, out of necessity, or a bit of both.

Lennie said it (Konitz' tone) was "ruined", and I can see why he would think that, but hell, Lee would go on to play with the Varitone, so, so much for that!


Edited by MomsMobley, 23 December 2011 - 06:24 PM.


#71 Larry Kart

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 07:16 PM

I find those charts clumsy, repetitive, formulaic, and stultifying. Definitely Kenton's charts. That's another record I listen to praying that it be over as soon as possible. If that's "romance", gee, no wonder nobody falls in love any more!


Formulaic, yes, but I like the formula, in part because it speaks to me so clearly of its time. How old where you in 1958? I was 16. Sounded romantic to me then.

#72 JSngry

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:07 PM

How old was I in 1958?

2 or 3, depending on the month.

Plenty of other stuff from then sounds romantic to me today. This does not. This sounds creepy.

#73 Larry Kart

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:09 PM

How old was I in 1958?

2 or 3, depending on the month.

Plenty of other stuff from then sounds romantic to me today. This does not. This sounds creepy.



And why do you think that romance and creepiness are mutually exclusive?

#74 JSngry

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 10:21 PM

Because romance can grow. Creepiness can only intensify.

#75 Larry Kart

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 12:36 AM

Because romance can grow. Creepiness can only intensify.


Nicely put, but one man's creepiness in another man's... But then there's the story that someone recently told us. :ph34r:

#76 JSngry

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 12:52 AM

I trust my instincts on this one.

#77 John L

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 04:26 AM

I just read through this thread for the first time. This is a REALLY interesting discussion. Kenton is so huge, both in the good and bad sense, that the jury may be out on him forever.

People write of the shock of first hearing Albert Ayler in the 60s. It is hard to imagine the extent of that shock today. Putting on a full metal jacket Stan Kenton record is maybe the closest that we can get. Those records still sound shocking.

#78 AllenLowe

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 09:11 AM

"I find those charts clumsy, repetitive, formulaic, and stultifying"

yes, he was a people's arranger. One of Chairman Mao's favorites.

#79 Quasimado

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 11:07 AM

Whatever - seems like Jim wants to stick with the "monstrous" label...
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#80 JSngry

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 11:30 AM

Whatever - seems like Jim wants to stick with the "monstrous" label...
Q


Maybe on the whole, but not always. It would be as dishonest to go either way all the way.

If it makes you feel any better, I actually ordered the CD of Adventures In Jazz yesterday, as in actually paid money for it.

Sorry, but it's no either/or with Kenton. It's usually-but-not-always, and the but-not-always is where you can have some fun.

Actually, it's not "monstrous" nearly as much as it is "creepy", and I'm applying it just to the music.

Edited by JSngry, 24 December 2011 - 11:57 AM.


#81 colinmce

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 09:31 PM

I understand where Jim is coming from on that. There is some Kenton I can get behind but I get the same vibe. Listening to Kenton can be like drinking a big warm glass of milk. Which, to me, is creepy.

This is very extra-musical and entirely subjective, I admit this.

#82 JSngry

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 12:25 PM


lesser known (?), later Kenton masterpiece: Plays The Compositions of Dee Barton--


Masterpiece? Really? I've had that one for about 40 years now, and it's pretty much the same handful of somewhat slight ideas over and over. He makes it all "sound good", but there's a not a whole helluva lot of filling in that pie.


Backing off on this some for the record. Been revisiting it fairly heavily the last few days, and although I still think "masterpiece" is too much (needs stronger soloists and more "stable" time to qualify in my book), it is a distinctive work of integrity...and more or less totally un-Kentonish in its vibe. Some of the tunes would not be out of place on, say, Sonny's Dream. Barton's writing showed this inclination back in 1962 on his "Turtle Talk", and if many of the charts have a general overall "sameness" (not so much literally, but attitudinally), so be it. This guy, Barton, was writing charts that reconciled many of the conceptual ideas of "new jazz" with the Kenton instrumentation. More importantly, somehow, some way, the whole thing about Kenton getting nervous about shit swinging too much (true!) got left aside here - the band swings hard, and Barton is driving the bus.

Soloists are definitely playing "catch up" to the last 5 or 6 years from 1967, but...they're cool. At least they recognized what was going on and that it mattered. So many others in this world didn't.

Truth be told, in a perfect world, Dee Barton & Charles Tolliver could have collaborated and the Music Inc. Big Band repertoire could have expanded significantly. For all kinds of reasons, that type of perfect world didn't exist then, doesn't exist now, and may never exist. But there's a lot of stuff on here that suggests that at heart Barton was leaning more towards Impact! than New Concepts Of Artistry In Rhythm, more Gerald Wilson than Bills Russo & Holman, and that the worlds of that (and this) time does not encourage such things is...too bad.

Masterpiece? Almost, not quite.

A worthy record? Most definitely.

Some of the very best jazz ever made under the name "Stan Kenton" ? Without question, and more truly "progressive" and "innovative" than most things bearing that name, because it's tied into the jazzworld of its time instead of trying to tie a rope around it.

Highly recommended? Oh hell yeah!

Never let it be said that I'm a man who does not reconsider when given good cause.

#83 johnlitweiler

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 01:16 PM

First jazz concert I ever heard was the Kenton band in Wheaton, IL in about 1959. They played arrangements by Niehaus and Jimmy Knepper and Kenton featured both of them soloing in some of their pieces. Billy Root, baritone, was the other soloist I recall, don't remember the other arrangers. Did Kenton record any Knepper scores?

How can we despise a bandleader who had offered young Ornette Coleman a gig about 5 years before that? (Ornette turned him down.)

#84 fasstrack

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 02:24 PM

remembering the monstrous stan kenton

from the dec. 9 new republic



us Stan Kenton

  • David Hajdu
  • December 9, 2011 | 12:00 am
Posted ImageIt takes a special awfulness for an artist to be worth remembering not for the value but for the faults of his work. In American music, few well-established figures went quite so wrong as Stan Kenton, the pianist and orchestra leader whose centennial on December 15 will be recognized by concerts at Jazz at Lincoln, the Manhattan School of Music, and the University of North Texas, which houses an archive of Kenton’s papers and scores. The events are well intentioned, I have no doubt, and Kenton, through the musicians he hired—the arrangers Bill Holman and Gerry Mulligan, the saxophonists Art Pepper and Lee Konitz, the singers Anita O’Day, June Christy, and Chris Connor, chief among them—can legitimately be credited with some responsibility for at least a dozen significant contributions to the history of “cool jazz.” The bulk of his output, however, was blighted by ostentation, gimmickry, and bloat. Stan Kenton gave pretentiousness a bad name.

Desperate to be taken seriously and ambivalent about the legitimacy of jazz as a style, Kenton conflated originality with novelty and importance with scale. In the early ’50s, he gussied up his big band, incorporating symphony instruments, until he was conducting 39 pieces, including 16 strings, woodwinds, and French horns. He named the ensemble the Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra, and he had it play overwrought emulations of the early postwar avant-garde—pieces such as “Opus in Pastels,” “Dance Before the Mirror,” and “Trajectories.” I recommend the music highly to any contemporary artist inclined to monstrosity and susceptible to self-aggrandizement. In fact, I should send a CD to Kanye West.

Bitter about being overshadowed by his African-American superiors in the Down Beat magazine critic’s poll, Kenton sent the editors a now-notorious telegram, grousing of his status in “a new minority, white jazz musicians.” He was something less than sensitive— personally as well as professionally, according to his daughter Leslie Kenton, who, in a memoir published last year, detailed what she described as an incestuous relationship with her father. One need not be concerned with that controversy to see the problem with Stan Kenton. Kenton’s music was monstrous enough.


I dunno. There's good Kenton and bad (pompous) Kenton. The fact that he would record something as career-suicide fodder as Bob Graettinger's City of Glass shows something. Not sure what that is, though. Cojunes? Probably. But no one else was running after Graettinger, that's a given. And Kenton always had top musicians.

My reservation personally would be all that bombast and noise---sound and fury. Compare Kenton to, say, Thornhill---never bombastic, in his own writing, and certainly not in that of Bill Borden or Gil Evans. With Kenton the trumpets were always twice as loud as the reeds. Kenton obviously wanted that, you can't blame the writers---they were aces, too. He also seemed to want to prove that swing didn't matter all that much. But, at least according to Art Pepper's Straight Life, when Kenton left early the band would bring out all the really swinging charts---perhaps partly in rebellion.

There just was too much talent, too much good music made by great players and writers in the tremendous volume of work left behind to say Kenton doesn't deserve a place in music history. He wasn't hiding, had to have something to do with that---probably a lot. He definitely earned his place in that history.

Edited by fasstrack, 20 January 2012 - 04:46 PM.


#85 AllenLowe

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 03:54 PM

I had forgotten the thing about Ornette. John's right; that gesture alone got Kenton into Heaven.

Edited by AllenLowe, 20 January 2012 - 03:55 PM.


#86 king ubu

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 11:42 AM

just a little footnote for Mssrs. Sangrey and Mommentine: saw Clint Eastwood's "High Plains Drifter" in the movies a few days ago - score by Dee Barton. And a pretty effective one, too. Seems he also wrote the music for Clint's debut as a director, "Play Misty for Me" (which is referenced early in "Dirty Harry" on the marquee of a movie theater in the background), but I missed that one, alas.

#87 sidewinder

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 12:24 PM

Seems he also wrote the music for Clint's debut as a director, "Play Misty for Me" (which is referenced early in "Dirty Harry" on the marquee of a movie theater in the background), but I missed that one, alas.


That's very interesting. There's some moody, dense thematic music in that one which always sounded Gerald Wilson-ish to me and I'd always thought it was Gerald's orchestra. You have just cleared up one of my big mysteries because I could never find music by Gerald on record which mathched it. Cheers ! :D

Edited by sidewinder, 03 March 2012 - 12:24 PM.


#88 king ubu

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 01:08 PM


Seems he also wrote the music for Clint's debut as a director, "Play Misty for Me" (which is referenced early in "Dirty Harry" on the marquee of a movie theater in the background), but I missed that one, alas.


That's very interesting. There's some moody, dense thematic music in that one which always sounded Gerald Wilson-ish to me and I'd always thought it was Gerald's orchestra. You have just cleared up one of my big mysteries because I could never find music by Gerald on record which mathched it. Cheers ! :D


Googling around some more, I found he also wrote the soundtrack for "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot", which I saw last year (w/Eastwood and Jeff Bridges).



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