Stan Kenton

Etude for Saxophones, 1941-1942: The Complete MacGregor Transcriptions, Vol. 2

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Volume two of Naxos Jazz's systematic reissue of the MacGregor radio transcriptions of Stan Kenton's early Balboa band takes listeners past Pearl Harbor into January 1942. At this early date, Kenton is still balancing the desires of the dancers with his urge to push big band writing forward, although the commercial side of the Kenton band book -- more ballads, more pale vocals -- plays a bigger role in this collection than in volume one. The selections here are almost totally unrepresented in Kenton's Decca/Capitol discography, including such unlikely detours as "Marvin's Mumble," with a central section brazenly modeled after "Sing Sing Sing" or a jumping, mildly Kenton-ized treatment of "Arkansaw Traveler." As a composer, Kenton is beginning to reach the limitations of his patented close-blended, staccato saxophone choir; he and his future corps of arrangers would soon expand out of that box. The wild enthusiasm of the young, sunbathed southern California audience, perched there on the West Coast just before the Japanese planes struck across the Pacific, generates gobs of bright-eyed, prewar nostalgia. Again, the transfers are clean and undistorted, and this time the personnel is listed, whereas in volume one it was not.

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