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Aftab

Stan Kenton -

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What Kenton should I invests some $$$ in - I dig a lot of the west coast/pacific jazz guys he employed over the years - any recs?

Thanks!

Edited by Aftab

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I suggest starting with "Kenton Showcase". It is from the '53/54 era and has arrangements by Russo and Holman. This is a good example with some fine soloists. Then, if interested, move forwards and backwards - one step at a time.

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I recommend the Innovations Orchestra recordings from about 1952.

In the mid-50s he recorded charts by Bill Russo and Bill Holman. These were made into a Mosaic box.

Many of his late 40s stuff was by Pete Rugolo, but I like his 50s stuff better.

I recommend that you stay away from anything after 1957, to pick a year. As the great players left his band and were replaced by people who did not go on to become famous, in my opinion the band became too dry and uninteresting.

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Thanks for posting that cool LP cover, Jim!

I only have three or four Kenton discs so far, plus the Forties Mosaic.

What I'd like to know is: can the recordings of the Holman/Russo Mosaic be bought on single CDs? Some of the 53-54 CDs available do have Holman/Russo charts, however, is there a way of acquiring all that was in that Mosaic set?

Could anyone maybe name the respective albums?

Or does anyone have a discography of that set he could post here?

ubu

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I'm not a Kenton fan, but City of Glass is on my favourite big band albums. It is however not representative of Kenton's work.

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Edited by Claude

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Not too much for Kenton overall, myself, but from the post-mid 50s era, ADVENTURES IN JAZZ & LIVE AT REDLANDS UNIVERSITY are quite nice, all things considered. The former has plenty of good work by Sam Donahue as well as very nice writing throughout (this was the "Mellophoium Band"), and the latter was the beginning of Kenton's resurgence as a "jazz" bandleader after plenty of overtly commercial work during his last years at Capitol, although PLAYS THE JAZZ COMPOSITIONS OF DEE BARTON, one of his last Capitol albums (I think that HAIR thing was his last) is pleasant enough once you overlook the fact that almost all of Barton's compositions sound somewhat the same.

CUBAN FIRE has its advocates (as well as an appearance by Lucky Thompson), but I dunno. LOTS of sound and fury....

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CUBAN FIRE has its advocates (as well as an appearance by Lucky Thompson)

.....and Carl Fontana!

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I really like Bill Mathieo's arranging and the performances on Standards in Silhouette. Easy Go (1950-1952) is also a good cd, with some swinging stuff on it and atypically loose. I like West Side Story too. . . and City of Glass. Not sure I can single out why I like either, just do!

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. . . and City of Glass. Not sure I can single out why I like either, just do!

Bob Graettinger, most likely. The guy was probably a little insane, but still functional, possibly a genius of sorts, and his music is at once beautiful, frightening, logical, and totally, TOTALLY wack. There is a truth in his work that one either embraces or runs screaming from. Or both.

What's NOT to like? :g

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I know Kenton gets a bad rap much of the time. The band is often stiff and generally is not known for a high level of swing, although there are a few exceptions to that generalization. I think Kenton just had a different sound in his head, certainly not everyone's cup of tea.

I heard the band many times in high school (70s) and remember the thrill of hearing the band in the big grandiose moments, although I don't remember as many memorable moments as far as soloists from those years.

I went to the Kenton music camps a couple summers in the mid-70s. the band was in residence for a week in Springfield, MO (as well as some other national locations). The first year I went I was totally green and got into the lowest ensemble and theory class, but I got to hang out w/the guys in the band for a week and they really encouraged, nurtured and inspired me. I also drank Scotch and heard Carl Fontana for the first time! :excited: I went home that summer and started to practice and study and the next summer I placed much higher, including getting into Hank Levy's arranging class and writing my first chart, which the Kenton band read- that was a thrill! That was the beginning for me- I had found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

As I discovered more players I sort of gravitated away from the Kenton band and towards more blowing-oriented bands like Woody and Basie, but I will always credit that experience w/the Kenton band as something that pointed me in the right direction. And I still listen to Kenton from time to time. It is what it is and often it's very good.

Anyone else here ever go to any Kenton camps?

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Yeah, it's whack stuff. .. I guess that's why I like it. Something new to marvel at on each listen!

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I know Kenton gets a bad rap much of the time. The band is often stiff and generally is not known for a high level of swing, although there are a few exceptions to that generalization. I think Kenton just had a different sound in his head, certainly not everyone's cup of tea.

The REAL problem I have w/the whole Kenton trip is his "Great White Hope" image that he played into more than willingly, all the while borrowing from Lunceford, Ellington, Afro-Cuban, Be-Bop, etc. When I can lose that, I can here a fair amount of interesting music, and, occasionally, something truly innovative and/or swinging. But I have a VERY hard time getting there, especially when a lot of it is nothing more than borrowings and simplifications of other musics made to seem more "progressive" than it really was by flipping on the old "fasterhigherlouder" switch. But yes, there were more than a few good moments along the way. I'd be dishonest if I said otherwise. But Kenton himseelf, honestly, was more an "enabler" than a true "jazz giant". Not that their's anything wrong w/that, especially when you're enabling cats like Holman & Graettinger & Maiden.

I'm reminded of a quote from Al Porcino (paraphrased, the exact source is in my closet): "Stan used to get some really good bands, but after a couple of weeks, he'd look up, hear everybody swinging, and say 'THIS IS NOT MY BAND!'"

Never went to a Kenton camp, but I too heard the band many times in the 70s. The first time was when Willie Maiden was on board. Hung out w/him for a little bit, and that was 1,000,000,000% joy for a 16 year old, let me tell you!

Favorite Kenton moment - a dance in Bossier City, La., ca 1976(?). The crowd was not a jazz crowd, but a "big band" crowd, and Kenton obliged their tastes most of the night. Late in the evening, Stan turned John Park loose on "Stardust", and MAN did he blow! About the third chorus, the bones started playing whole note backgrounds, totally uncharted, and with a LOT of non-chord tones in the mix. Beautiful, purely beautiful.

A bit later, I caught the band at a college concert. I saw Stan backstage, and told him, "I know this is going to sound REALLY dumb, but could you let Park blow on "Stardust" like you did in Bossier City a few months ago?" He said, "We'll see" with a look that told me that he thought I was totally nuts, square, or both. However, about a third of the way into the gig, he started playing "Stardust" solo, got past the intro into the tune, started laughing, stopped, and siad to the audience (who was also laughing, "HEY - a STAGEHAND requested it!"

That to me is the essence of Stan Kenton - somebody too restless for his own damn good. :g

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Kenton in Hi-Fi was what alerted me to this band, and getting hooked. Interlude and Collaboration are simply beautiful while Intermission Riff and Minor Riff are uplifting and swinging plus, there are the handful of songs that became fairly popular that Kenton and band recorded in the 40s. Wonderful stuff even if the album only had the first 6 or 7 songs.

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To the previous recommendations, I'll add the 'Live From the Las Vegas Tropicana' album that was reissued a couple of years ago by Capitol. This was the great 1959 band with Lennie Niehaus, Richie Kamuca, Jack Sheldon among th soloists.

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Thanks everybody for all the recommendations - I only have the early Mosaic and some stray later CDs.

I still have the question open regarding the OOP Holman/Russo set: what albums was the music from that box taken from? Does that box include several complete or almost complete albums, or does it have two tracks from this and three from that etc?

Then another question: at a shop closing down I had a look at the Chronological Classics 1950 and 1951. They have the Innovations tracks (I have that 2CD set). Was there anything between the music on the Mosaic and the Innovations orchestra?

thanks,

ubu

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Kenton in Hi-Fi was what alerted me to this band, and getting hooked. Interlude and Collaboration are simply beautiful while Intermission Riff and Minor Riff are uplifting and swinging plus, there are the handful of songs that became fairly popular that Kenton and band recorded in the 40s. Wonderful stuff even if the album only had the first 6 or 7 songs.

I just got this and I'm diggin' on it now, even though I need to go to bed. Man, this is SWINGIN'! What's next?

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I still have the question open regarding the OOP Holman/Russo set: what albums was the music from that box taken from? Does that box include several complete or almost complete albums, or does it have two tracks from this and three from that etc?

The Holman and Russo Mosaic set is essentially a 'grab bag' of material from a whole range of Capitol albums spanning 1950 to 1953 (plus some stuff that wasn't issued on Capitol but was put out on Creative World). Very good set IMO, I recommend it.

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Ubu, the Mosaic (Which I think is wonderful) does not list the original albums, the information must be out there somewhere......

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Personally, I have stuff by artists who played with Kenton and enjoy it, but the Kenton stuff itself just doesn't work for me. Except City of Glass. But I'll admit I came to Kenton with biases well intact (described far better than I could by Jim above) that prevent me from giving him an even break.

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Thanks for bringing this up again... picked up a couple more recent Blue Note discs (not those copycrapped, though), and compared with tracklistings from Ebay to find out that I have most of what was in the Mosaic by now... no need to shell out big dough for that!

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