Stan Kenton

The Innovations Orchestra

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During 1950-51, Stan Kenton did the unthinkable by putting together a 40-piece orchestra that included a full string section. The music was quite uncommercial, complex, and advanced with the emphasis on the arrangements rather than the soloists (which include trumpeters Shorty Rogers and Maynard Ferguson, trombonist Milt Bernhart, altoist Art Pepper, tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper, and guitarist Laurindo Almeida). This two-CD set has all of the music originally released on the albums Innovations in Modern Music and Stan Kenton Presents, plus 14 other key selections by the forbidding but intriguing orchestra. Although there are two numbers by Bob Graettinge (the most radical of the Kenton arrangers), his main works have already been issued separately as Stan Kenton Plays Bob Graettinger. The primary arrangers on this twofer are Pete Rugolo (whose work is often quite serious although "Mardi Gras" is a definite contrast!), Bill Russo (including the memorable "Solitaire"), Johnny Richards, and, for a few swinging numbers that are a major contrast, Shorty Rogers. Among the more famous selections are "Lonesome Road" (which has one of two June Christy vocals), "Soliloquy," and "Cuban Episode." The last four selections on the reissue are taken from an Oct. 14, 1951, concert that was part of this very expensive ensemble's second and final tour. By 1952, Kenton was leading a more conventional big band, but the recordings of his Innovations Orchestra have since become legendary and stand apart from the other music of the 1950s.

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