This installment in Collectors' Choice Music's reissue series of classic and erstwhile out-of-print Stan Kenton (piano/arranger) titles includes two soundtrack-laden long-players, World We Know (1968), and Finian's Rainbow (1968). The former collection gathers fresh readings of both popular music standards along with Kenton originals, all bearing his unique style of modernizing familiar themes via his intricate harmonic phrasings. With a jazzy flare, the rendering of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" has been reworked with a breezy visage that incrementally builds from the melodic piano lead into a full-blown big band outing. The same approach is adapted to Neal Hefti's "Girl Talk," taken from the film Harlow (1965). The song now sustains a more sensual style that unravels into a brash and effervescent conclusion. "Man and a Woman," which originates from the Claude Lelouch film Un Homme et une Femme (1966), is given an almost 180 degree departure from a whimsical to a darker and more plaintive place. Kenton's "Changing Times," and the wistful romance of "Theme for Jo" provide him an outlet for his interpretive piano lines that weave against the subtle ensemble. Finian's Rainbow (1968) is another anthology of arrangements that tackle ten well-known melodies -- five from Finian's Rainbow [Original Broadway Cast] (1947), and five from films. His inventive overhaul of "Old Devil Moon," and "If This Isn't Love" are tangents within a framework, as the driving percussive rhythms accentuate the robust rendering, taking the tunes to an infectious samba groove. This is directly contrasted by the laid-back and lush "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love," with an easy and temperate brass and woodwind section. Of the great movie songs, listeners can revel in the frenetic recreation of the "Lullaby From 'Rosemary's Baby'," or a bouncy, yet refined "Theme From "The Odd Couple."
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer