"Before there were Dead Heads, Trekkies, and even Beatlemaniacs, there were Kentonites," it was stated on the website All About Jazz (all aboutjazz.com). "Sixty years ago, Stan Kenton put the musical world on notice that he was going to add his signature sound to American popular music, and pop/jazz fans have been rabidly divided on his merits, akin to the Tories and Loyalists."
Kenton aficionados will also be interested in four other titles - new Kenton CDs. They are his "AFRS Jubilee Recordings" (Sounds of YesterYear [ UK ] DSOY848); "Birdland Encores" (Mr. Music 9002), a 2-disc set of broadcasts from Birdland in New York City in 1953; "Double Feature: Volume 1," Kenton with the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble (Tantara 1126), another 2-CD title, with Kenton's own band in 1959 in San Francisco and Chicago and the DePaul Ensemble playing some of his unrecorded charts in 2009; and "Stan Kenton: Five Classic Albums" (Real Gone Jazz 1810907), a 2-CD set containing "City of Glass," "This Modern World," Contemporary Concepts," Kenton in Hi-Fi," and "Cuban Fire."
Review: "Birdland Encores" (Mr. Music MMCD-9002)
Among the 26 tracks sourced from NBC "All Star Parade of Bands" broadcasts by Stan Kenton and His Orchestra are Harlem Nocturne and Collaboration, with the leader's piano solos; two vocals by Chris Connor, If I Should Lose You and Taking a Chance On Love; I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) and Frank Speaking, both featuring Frank Rosolino on trombone; and The Four Freshmen doing one of their biggest hits, It's a Blue World.
Sound is clear.
The packaging, while straightforward in black and white, is attractive and sufficient.
Liner notes are by Wayne Knight, owner of the Mr. Music imprint and its distributor, Star Line Productions, Inc., and recall, in part, the jazz club Birdland, where the performances were done, located at 1678 Broadway in New York City.
Knight has included the complete transcribed broadcasts #9, 10, 14 and 15, resulting in a pair of tunes, Hav-a-Havana, written by Bill Holman, and Young Blood, with soloists Conte Candoli(tp), Richie Kamuca (ts), and Lee Konitz(as), being heard twice - though from different dates.
Big Band Library rating: VERY GOOD
Review: Double Feature: The Stan Kenton Orchestra
and The DePaul University Jazz Ensemble (Tantara T2CD-1126)
A great edition of Kenton's band, on location in San Francisco and Chicago during early 1959, is heard in equally fine sound. In fact, the San Francisco date is in crystal-clear stereo and, no wonder, it was engineered by Wally Heider.
The enjoyable music includes Lennie Niehaus' arrangements of I've Never Been in Love Before and Younger Than Springtime, Kenton's own chart for Don't Take Your Love From
Me, and the classic head on Intermission Riff. And I thought it reflected well on Kenton that, when he called up Early Autumn, he said to his musicians, "Early Autumn, please." (A gentleman!)
The second disc has the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble of 2009-2010 doing a good and robust job with some lesser-known material from the Kenton band book, such as Gene Roland's arrangement of Robbins' Nest. While it's commendable that Tantara has supported the Ensemble, I think I would have marketed that disc separately.
Big Band Library rating: VERY GOOD
Review: "Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm" (Jazzed Media JM9004)
Nearly two hours in length, this documentary traces Kenton's achievements from the beginning of his career to the end of his life, weaving in recollections from a number of his band's alumni, including Bill Holman, Howard Rumsey, Roy Wiegand, Eddie Bert, and Carl Saunders, in addition to some spoken audio of Kenton himself.
There are quite a lot of black-and-white and color stills, as well as film and video footage of Kenton and his orchestras performing such tunes as Artistry in Rhythm (the band's theme), Intermission Riff, The Peanut Vendor, Eager Beaver, Southern Scandal, and Artistry in Percussion. Nearly all of the stills are sharp (the early color ones are especially eye-catching), leaving the film and video footage clearly less so, and the video footage, while welcome, seems to have all come from the same TV program.
I disagree with the claim stated by a representative of the Los Angeles Jazz Institute that, of all the big bands, only Kenton's music continues to have a large following today.
Big Band Library rating: VERY GOOD
Big Bands In-Person
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Bill Tole. May 7, USS Hornet, Alameda, CA.
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Gary Tole. May 1, Smoky Mountain Center, Franklin,
NC; May 5, Mount Olive Performing Arts Center, Flanders, NJ; May 6, Stratford High
School, Stratford, CT; May 7, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY; May 8, Capitol
Theatre, Rome NY; May 10, Smith Opera House, Geneva, NY; May 12, Empire
Theatre, Stirling, Ontario, Canada; May 14, Rockingham Ballroom, Newmarket, NH;
May 15, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, South Paris, ME; May 16, The
Grand, Ellsworth, ME; May 19-20, The Carlyle Club, Alexandra, VA; May 22, Egyptian
Theatre, DeKalb, IL; May 27-28, Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, Chattanooga, TN;
May 29, Opryland Hotel & Convention Center, Nashville, TN.
Happy Birthday to You
Van Alexander, b.May 2, 1915. Arranger with Webb '36-'38 and bandleader '39-'43 /
Capitol LPs '59-'62.
Buddy Catlett, b.May 13, 1933. Bassist with Basie '62-'64.
Al Porcino, b.May 15, 1925. Trumpeter with Herman '49 / '54 / '59; Kenton '55 / '60 / '65; J.
Eddie Bert, b.May 16, 1922. Trombonist with Norvo '41-'42; Herman '43 / '50; Kenton '47;
McKinley '52; Les Elgart '54; Lawrence '55-'59.
Lorry Peters, b.May 20, 1932. Vocalist with McKinley-Miller '57-'59? / '61 RCA Victor LP
"Glenn Miller Time".
Gene DiNovi, b.May 26, 1928. Pianist with Shaw '49; Goodman '48 / '59.
Russ Carlyle, 96, d.May 3, 2001. Vocalist with Barron '36-'41.
Snooky Young, 92, d.May 5, 2011, "complications of a lung disorder." Trumpeter with
Lunceford '39-'42; Basie '42 / '43 / '45 / '46-'48 / '57-'62; Hampton '44-'45.
Norma Zimmer, 87, d.May 10, 2011. Vocalist with Welk '60-'82.
Ted Nash, 88, d.May 12, 2011. Saxophonist with Brown '44-'46; J. Gray '47-'52.
Roc Hillman, 100, May 31, 2011. Guitarist with Dorsey Brothers '34-'35; J. Dorsey '35-'40;
Kyser '40-'47; composer.
New In-Print and / or Online
Stephen F. Bedwell. "1948: Tex and GMO," [ International Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight
Serenader, Number 330 / 1st Edition 2011, pp.10-11. A re-print of an article filed by
Bedwell after he saw The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Tex Beneke at a one-night
stand in Toronto. Talking of his Navy days, Beneke stated, "We cut some records and
made a few transcriptions, but I don't know what happened to them."
Tony Eaton. "'A Disc Collector's Dream,'" [ International Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight
Serenader, Number 330 / 1st Edition 2011, p.1+. Eaton calls "75 Glenn Miller
Masterpieces" (Sepia 1165) a "superb re-issue," and states that Sepia has done "an
excellent re-mastering job," and that everything is "handsomely packaged" . . . "For
quality, value and wonderful musical content, this new double CD has to be one of the
major GM releases of 2011."
---. "What's New?," [ International Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight Serenader, Number 330
/ 1st Edition 2011, pp.7-8. Among other items, Eaton sends birthday greetings to
trombonist Nat Peck, clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, and four British singers - Paula
Green, Beryl Davis, Dame Vera Lynn, and Dorothy Carless.
Dinah Eng. "Listening to yesteryear today . . . ," scrippsnews.com, May 14, 2011.
Deborah Pearl has recorded a tribute album, "Souvenir of You... New Lyrics to Benny
Karl Kountz. "Theodore Friedman...Who?," The Great Escape! / dixieswing.com,
Issue No. 24 May/June 2011, p.1. A remembrance of bandleader Ted Lewis.
Andrew Mitchell. "Back in the Swing: Glenn Miller Orchestra returns to the Egyptian after
more than a decade," [ DeKalb, IL ] Daily Chronicle, May 19, 2011. Conductor Gary
Tole has added a different song to their performances, Bandstand Boogie, which
he used to play with his with Legends of Swing group.
"Remembering Eddie Hubbard and The Browsers Quiz," The Great Escape! /
dixieswing.com, Issue No. 24 May/June 2011, p.5. Questions about the bands.
Robert J. Robbins. "Concert Review: Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Gary Tole,
Sunnybrook Ballroom, Pottstown, PA, March 18, 2011," Big Bands International,
No. 135 May 2011, p.8. Notes that Tole has changed the solos on In the Mood from
two tenor saxophones to "dueling trombones."
Kenneth Rogers. "Musical Horoscope," [ International Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight
Serenader, Number 330 / 1st Edition 2011, p.12. An article by Rogers, an astrologer,
which originally appeared in the March 1943 issue of The Gramophone. Rogers used
such adjectives as "friendly," "enthusiastic," and "shrewd" to describe Miller, but
commented that Miller's "own inner fears are a handicap. In some respects he has a
dual personality, few people really see beneath the surface."
Steven Seidenberg. "A Trove of Historic Jazz Recordings has Found a Home in Harlem,
But You Can't Hear Them," abajournal.com, May 1, 2011. Copyright and other
questions threaten to keep the rare acetates of Bill Savory Collection unissued.
Roland Taylor. "Miller's Mighty Service Band: The ensemble in focus," [ International Glenn
Miller Society ] Moonlight Serenader, Number 330 / 1st Edition 2011, pp.2-6. The
chronology continues, now through August 30, 1944.
Jazzed Media, the same company which has done the new Stan Kenton DVD described above, has started production of a documentary film on big band legend Woody Herman, titled "Blue Flame." This will be the fourth jazz documentary from filmmaker Graham Carter, owner of Jazzed Media.
Feedback and Follow-Up
On May 28th, I heard from Graham Carter, producer of the new Kenton DVD.
"Thanks for the nice words about my Stan Kenton documentary film!," he wrote. "The video elements are the best that are available so unfortunately I was not able to obtain any better copies of film prints or tv shows that were used in my documentary film. Unfortunately, there is not that much available with Stan Kenton."