Monday, January 21, 2008

Stan Kenton 1962

Many things can be said about Stan Kenton (1911 - 1979) and his boisterous style, one thing that cannot be said though is that this man was boring. Starting his first band in 1941 featuring such soloists as Art Pepper, Stan Getz, altoist Boots Mussulli, singers Anita O'Day and June Christie, in 1950 he put together his most advanced band, the 39-piece Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra that included 16 strings, a woodwind section, and two French horns. Its music ranged from the unique and very dense modern classical charts of Bob Graettinger to works that somehow swung despite the weight. Such major players as Maynard Ferguson (whose high-note acrobatics set new standards), Shorty Rogers, Milt Bernhart, John Graas, Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, Laurindo Almeida, Shelly Manne, and June Christy were part of this remarkable project, a literal jazz boot camp for players and arrangers alike.

This set from 1962 is the mellophonium incarnation of this great orchestra, featuring a four mellophoniums section (the cumbersome brass instrument with the huge bell), giving as such standards as "Limehouse Blues", "All The Things You Are", West Side Story's grand hit "Maria" and latin tinged "Malaguena" in the unique Stan Kenton way.

Regulars of this blog will no doubt recognize that this is yet another set of the landmark Jazz Scene USA TV series of the early '60s with hipster Oscar Brown Jr as host. Interviews and commentary have been left intact while editing this to preserve that time capsule feeling and to lament the state of TV today as opposed to these historic times, enjoy.