Stan Kenton

1952-1953

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Volume 10 in the complete works of Stan Kenton as presented in the Classics chronological series opens with more of Kenton's progressive modern jazz recorded in March 1952. Gene Roland's "Beehive" is a well-constructed and smoothly executed piece of work, well among the grooviest tracks in the entire early Kenton discography. Robert Graettinger's "A Cello," on the other hand, uses strings and woodwinds (including a bassoon) to conjure a pleasantly dissonant, five-minute chamber episode that suggests the influence of Arnold Schoenberg or Ernst Krenek. Tracks 3 through 17 represent a reissue of Kenton's New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm album recorded in September 1952 and released shortly afterwards on the Capitol label. Bill Russo's "Prologue," which is presented here in four parts, is Kenton's attempt to claim dominance over the art of improvisation, almost as if nobody had thought of it before him. His boastful narration outlines the program in these words: "The character of the music to follow is the result of their understanding and adjustment to each other. Some of the music is written, some is improvised. There are times when a musician will express his individuality, and other moments when he will melt with the rest to create an organized sound. This is a cross-section view of this orchestra." It is supremely ironic that Kenton was making a record like this for Capitol only three years after Lennie Tristano had encountered uncomprehending and cynical resistance when he attempted to make records for that label using the principles later outlined so authoritatively by Kenton. With Tristano at that session in early 1949 was alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, and it is quite possible that Konitz actually imparted some of Tristano's teachings through Russo to Kenton, who in turn presented them to the public as more of his New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm. When Tristano tried it at Capitol, the engineers went so far as to erase some of his work. By September of 1952, the same concept was taken seriously by the people at Capitol because it was being advanced by Kenton, who clearly relished talking it up. Several additional Russo compositions were designed for soloists in the band at that time: "Frank Speaking" spot lights trombonist Frank Rosolino, "Portrait of a Count" features trumpeter Conte Condoli, and Konitz's delivery on "My Lady" is one of the high points of the entire album. Other original compositions are by Gerry Mulligan ("Young Blood" and "Swing House") and Bill Holman, whose "Invention for Guitar and Trumpet" showcases Sal Salvador and Maynard Ferguson. Kenton's band at this point also included saxophonists Richie Kamuca and Bud Shank, as well as vocalist Kay Brown. This segment of the Kenton chronology closes with half a dozen beautifully interpreted standards dating from January 1953. The next phase of his odyssey would find the orchestra embarking on a European tour, during which the band was well received and more excellent recordings were made.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:06
2
5:02
3
2:50
4
2:29
5
2:40
6
1:56
7
3:16
8
3:14
9
3:14
10
3:11
11
3:21
12
2:56
13 2:55
14
3:21
15
2:56
16
3:21
17
6:22
18
2:41
19 3:11
20
3:25
21 2:44
22 3:22
23 3:05
blue highlight denotes track pick