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On A Night Like This, The Story Is Told ...

Stan Kenton - Play It Loud



Stan kenton


'... Capitol Records ... signed Kenton up for a date in November 1943. He quickly became Capitol's top-selling star, his tall , lean frame and toothy grin occupying a high proportion of the company's advertising space.

'Stan quickly cottoned onto the fact that he had a potential following for the all-stops-out style of much of his band's book: Artistry Jumps, Intermission Riff, Machito, ...... The trumpets scrambled over one another as each strove to cap his colleagues, a barrel-chested trombone section sent out blaring tidal waves of sound, and if the saxophone section sometimes struggled to be heard, they refused to be overcome. Under it all was a rhythm section which, as time went by, was obliged to sacrifice subtlety and swing in favour of sheer volume.


Intermission Riff from when the Kenton Orchestra visited London in 1972.




'It was apparent that Stan loved volume just as much as did the fans. Many stories have been told to verify this. Guitarist Sal Salvador told Stan Woolley how, during the playing of Artistry In Rhythm, the sound sometimes disappeared. "I turned around and looked at the guys and their cheeks were all out and they were blowing like crazy but my ears had just cut-out at a certain point." Another tale told of Stan demanding more and yet more volume in rehearsal until he was finally assured that the band could not possibly play any louder. He was advised to have his ears syringed. He did, and the next day was almost deafened by the thunderous roar of the band....

Here's a video of the Kenton Orchestra in Berlin in 1953 from the German film, "Schlagerparade" ("Hit Parade") arranged by Bill Holman and with a formidable line-up including Buddy Childers, Vic Minichiello, Conte Candoli, Don Dennis, Don Smith (trumpet) Bob Burgess, Frank Rosolino, Keith Moon, Bill Russo (trombone), Bill Smiley (bass trombone), Dave Schildkraut, Lee Konitz (alto sax), Bill Holman, Zoot Sims (tenor sax), Tony Ferina (baritone sax), Stan Kenton (piano), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Don Bagley (bass) and Stan Levey (drums).




'..... There were also interesting new charts by Gerry Mulligan whose preference for writing tight arrangements which condensed the sound of a big band conflicted with Stan's view that a big band should sound like a big band. Nevertheless, Mulligan left a legacy of good music, including Young Blood, a tune which spakled with originality of thought and was played with verve by the band ...


Listen to Young Blood.  





'.... In the early 1960s Stan's ceaseless quest for new sounds led him to form his 23 piece 'New Era in Modern Music' orchestra which, thanks to having in its ranks an instrument not associated with jazz and big bands, was more usually known as the 'Mellophone' Band.

'..... Stan had wanted a new voice for the brass section. He had tried French horns and even alto trumpets before turning to mellophoniums. The results were mixed but the sound certainly was different .....

'..... Not surprisingly, given his penchant for experimentation, Kenton also tried his hand at fusions but with varying levels of success. On one particularly well-received album, 7.5 On The Richter Scale, Kenton looses his band on such numbers as the themes from the movies .....

'..... In 1977 Stan fell, fracturing his skull and was subsequently operated on for the removal of a blood clot. During his absence the band played on, led for a while by clarinetist Buddy De Franco and when Stan returned to the band he was as enthusiastic as ever but his gruelling schedule was beginning to tell. The band played its final concert on 20 August 1978 ..... Stan's health deteriorated rapidly and he died on 25 August 1979.

'In his will Stan Kenton stipulated that his band would never follow in the footsetps of Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey; there was to be no Stan Kenton Orchestra after his death'.

From: The Big Band Years by Bruce Crowther and Mike Pinfold.


If you enjoy Stan Kenton's music you might want to watch this 'Lost Concert' video from 1978 which lasts for almost an hour and a half. The picture is not perfect but the sound is very good and there is some outstanding playing. Jack Stuckey who posts it says: "This engagement in March 1978 does not appear in any of the band's published itineraries. Even Audree Coke Kenton could not find any record of this concert in Kentonia files. When Robert Widener presented the band in 1977, Stan could not be there because of his tragic accident in Reading, PA. Bob kept in touch with Stan and his agent, Willard Alexander. The idea of reopening the legendary Cocoanut Grove appealed to them. Widener made arrangements to reopen this historic room which had been mothballed and unused for years. Bob advised his mailing list that Kenton would be back, and it would be at the Cocoanut Grove. Willard Alexander called and said, March, in California. Bob picked Saturday, March 18. Stan's fans rushed to book seats and the event sold out in days......" (You can read more with the video).




Despite what Stan said in his will, this hasn't prevented bands emerging paying tribute to the Stand Kenton orchestras such as the Stan Kenton Legacy Band.




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