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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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STAN KENTON

‘Eager Beaver’

The Complete MacGregor Transcriptions

VOLUME 4

Naxos Jazz Legends

NAXOS 8.120703

 

1

Eager Beaver

11

I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City

2

I’ll Remember April

12

None But The Lonely Heart

3

Ride On

13

You Betcha

4

Russian Lullaby

14

The Hour Of Parting

5

Clair De Lune

15

In A Little Spanish Town

6

Build It Up And Tear It Down

16

Begin The Beguine

7

Moon Song

17

Blues

8

I Know That You Know

18

Tico Tico

9

Opus A Dollar Three Eighty

19

Special Delivery

10

Under A Blanket Of Blue

20

Conversin’ With The Brain

‘Eager Beaver,’ Volume 4 of the MacGregor Transcriptions, is devoted to the music of the Stan Kenton Orchestra of 1944. That year is generally considered to be the time when Kenton’s career was launched towards him becoming an innovator and leader of a concert orchestra rather than a dance band. There are a few interesting names such as Buddy Childers in the personnel but by far the most famous is Stan Getz who was only seventeen at the time. Sadly he is not afforded a solo. Vocalist Gene Howard is overshadowed by the band’s other singer Anita O’Day – prior to joining Kenton she was with the Gene Krupa Big Band. However her performance here is nothing compared with her music of later years.

By 1944 arranger Pete Rugolo had commenced his association with Kenton, ‘taking his, (Kenton’s), ideas and extending them into more esoteric areas.' ‘Opus a Dollar Three Eighty’ is one of his first compositions for the orchestra. ‘Eager Beaver’ is the opening track and both the section work and solos give a clear indication of how the band was developing, especially after the they had left the Bob Hope Show residency. Joe Rizzo’s arrangement of ‘Russian Lullaby’ gets the full Kenton treatment starting at break-neck speed then settling into a more sedate tempo before swinging off again – Dave Matthews gives a fine solo on the slower passage. The same goes for the ‘typical Kenton’ sound on ‘ I Know That You Know’ – again Matthews provides a full-toned tenor solo.

This music was recorded nearly seventy years ago so it is not surprising that parts sound very dated indeed but overall it is an attractive and interesting album. Moreover, unlike many other bands of the same era, there is still a considerable Kenton following today and ‘Eager Beaver’ will no doubt prove to be popular.

Jack Ashby

 

 



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