Between 1943-1961, the Stan Kenton Orchestra paved the way for a progressive style of big-band jazz that marked a departure from previous groups. For many, they epitomized their generation of jazz music, with Duke Ellington's bands and an emerging Gil Evans being clear exceptions. As a centerpiece for the Capitol label, Kenton's hitmaking machine fired on all cylinders with tunes like "Artistry in Rhythm," "Intermission Riff," Latin-flavored tunes like "The Peanut Vendor," and Ernesto Lecouna's stunning "Malaguena." On this collection of 18 tracks (16 recorded monorally, with only two in stereo), you hear the composed, intricate, and involved side of Kenton and various arrangers like Pete Rugolo, Bill Holman, and William Russo molded around outstanding young soloists Art Pepper, Lee Konitz, and Frank Rosolino. Though there is a ton of other Stan Kenton to be found, ranging from more standardized to more outgoing, this collection gives a listen to the centerpiece sound of the Kenton bands, and is easily recommended as a first CD of his to purchase.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos