Bucking the tide while beginning to surf on a wave of increasingly mannered modernity, Stan Kenton's orchestra maintained its popularity during the post-WWII decline of the big bands. Volume four in the Classics Stan Kenton chronology presents all of his Capitol recordings made between January 2 and September 24, 1947. June Christy continued to be the featured vocalist, often backed by Kenton's newly formed vocal group, the Pastels. Dave Lambert was the director of this ensemble and sang with them on at least the first three tracks heard here. Noteworthy instrumentalists present in Kenton's 19-piece band during 1947 were drummer Shelly Manne, trombonists Kai Winding and Eddie Bert, as well as saxophonists Vido Musso, Boots Mussulli and the largely unknown George Weidler, who demonstrated impressive skill and dexterity on the arresting "Elegy for Alto." Kenton, who is known to have been obsessed with the notion that he was "greater than Duke Ellington," had a penchant for emulating and (he thought) one-upping African-American musicians. This seems to have manifested itself in "Machito," a spiced up portrait devised by Pete Rugolo soon after Kenton's band shared the bill with Machito's Afro Cuban Salseros at a Town Hall concert in New York. Dizzy Gillespie had this to say about Kenton and the postwar big band scene: "By 1947, a lotta bands had begun to imitate our style of playing. And some of them, especially the white bands like Stan Kenton's, did better in America, commercially, than we could at that time with segregation. No one could take our style, but we had to stay in existence to keep the style alive. They had us so penned up within the concept of race that a colored big band wasn't all that economically feasible, unless you were playing and doing just what the people ordered." Living and working within this kind of a social environment, it is unfortunate that Stan Kenton sometimes exacerbated the problem by stating publicly that white jazz musicians were victims of racial discrimination! Sadly, this sort of twisted ignorant logic has survived into the 21st century.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf