Never throwing in the towel despite the demise of big bands, Stan Kenton (who cut his first album in 1945) was still heading a big band and touring in 1972 with another large group of good players, working with familiar arrangements by Bill Holman, Johnny Richards, Ken Hanna, and others. This concert took place two years after Kenton formed his own Creative World label as the vehicle for showcasing his music. Although the names in this band were nowhere as familiar as those who populated his earlier outfits, they were excellent musicians with such fine instrumentalists as Willie Maiden, Mike Vax, and Quinn Davis occupying key seats in the sections. This CD was from a live performance by Kenton during his third visit to Clearwater, FL. It was a receptive audience, probably since many of them go back a long way with his music. Sticking with his usual format, Kenton kicks off the night's proceedings with a ballad, Richards' arrangement of "Tonight." But Kenton doesn't let anyone forget his explorations in shaping creative modern colorations and dynamics of a big band with such tunes as "Fragments of a Portrait," featuring Kenton on piano, where he was unfairly underrated, and Dick Shearer's trombone, plus some very good work by the ensemble in a progressive mode. Kenton shows that he lost none of his taste for the exotic with "Bon Homme Richard," which had recently been added to the band's book. This CD should be a must-have for Kenton devotees. It should also be considered by others as a reminder of the many years the distinctive bandleader made important contributions to the development of progressive big band music.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan