Stan Kenton

Kenton with Voices

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Stan Kenton (piano/arranger) was one of the few bandleaders to successfully modernize harmonics within an extended combo setting. He sits alongside the likes of Sun Ra due to the importance that he placed on arrangements of pop standards. Although Kenton had been an active artist for well over a decade, according to the blurb on the rear of the Kenton With Voices (1957) LP jacket, this would be his first long-player to feature a vocal ensemble. Joining him are the Modern Men -- Bob Smart (vocals), Paul Salamunovich (vocals), Tony Katics (vocals), and Al Oliveri (vocals) -- whose robust sound has been augmented with Ann Richards (vocals), who incidentally, was concurrently married to Kenton. The dozen sides that comprise this platter consist solely of original scores, which may have been (at least in part) due to the impending departure of Kenton's longtime collaborator, Pete Rugolo (arranger) who, at the time, was poised to become the Music Director for Mercury Records. The trademark brash and stylistic covers run the gamut from the robust and harmonically intense opener "Dancing in the Dark," to the equally complex structure of the hauntingly gorgeous "Sophisticated Lady." There is also a remake of the Kenton classic "Eager Beaver," which had been his first significant hit back in 1943. Particularly notable is the exhilarating and slightly tropical rendering of "Temptation," which is awash in the chic 'space age bachelor pad' vibe of heavily provocative percussion. The Modern Men can accurately be compared to other vocal aggregates such as the Four Freshmen -- who were discovered by, and initially worked with Kenton during the early 1950s. Likewise, "Softly," "Women Usually Do," and the refined "Opus in Chartreuse" are perfect vehicles for Richards' smooth and throaty leads. In 2003, Collectors' Choice Music pared Kenton With Voices and Artistry in Voices And Brass (1964) on to a single-CD release, marking the digital debut of both.

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