Volume two in the Classics Stan Kenton chronology presents all of his Capitol and V-Disc recordings made between January 16 and December 26, 1945, with a pair of initially rejected Gene Howard vocal sides from 1944 tossed in as bonus tracks, out of sequence, like an afterthought. Singers would now become an increasingly important ingredient in the postwar entertainment industry. At the beginning of 1945, Kenton's featured female vocalist was sultry Anita O'Day, who later explained with characteristic gut level honesty why she quit after the session of January 16: "The band was great -- but it wasn't a swing band." June Christy began her own recording career with "Tampico" on May 4 after carefully studying the recordings of O'Day, who must have been a tough act to follow. There were occasional bouts of crooning from Gene Howard, and a Roy Eldridge disciple named Ray Wetzel sang and blew his trumpet on "I'm a Shy Guy." Kenton himself was one of four voices used on "I Been Down in Texas," an overbearing, embarrassingly contrived, campy combination of bop caricature and western novelty, grossly cluttered with imitation hepcat vernacular and hyped-up corn. On the more authentically hip side of things, "Around the Town," "Southern Scandal," "Opus in Pastels" and "Painted Rhythm" are among the better instrumental tracks from this part of the Kenton discography. Already the arrangements indicate the influence of Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Buster Harding, Earl Hines and the Billy Eckstine Orchestra. With all of the innovations circulating in the air at that time, it was Kenton's steadily expanding ensemble that attracted much of the attention with its "modern" angularities, shrill brass and bop-flavored charts. Kenton's sax section continued to morph during this period; Stan Getz split around the same time as O'Day and Kenton's old running buddy Vido Musso was back with the band on October 15.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Anita O'Day
feat: Anita O'Day
feat: Ray Wetzel