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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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STAN KENTON

Live at Humboldt State College, 1959

Sounds of Yester Year DSOY 825

 

 


1. Introduction: Stan Kenton
2. Theme And Variations
3. King Fish
4. Artistry In Rhythm
5. Bernie's Tune
6. I Concentrate On You
7. My Old Flame
8. Begin The Beguine
9. The End Of A Love Affair
10. Intermission Riff
11. Opus In Chartreuse
12. The Night We Called It A Day
13. A String Of Pearls
14. Nightingale

Stan Kenton - Piano
Frank Huggins, Bud Brisbois, Rolf Ericson, Joe Burnett, Roger Middleton - Trumpets
Archie LeCoque, Kent Larsen, Jim Amlotte - Trombones
Bob Olson, Bill Smiley - Bass trombones
Lennie Niehaus - Alto sax
Bill Trujillo, John Bonnie - Tenor saxes
Billy Root, Sture Swenson - Baritone saxes
Red Kelly - Bass
Jerry McKenzie - Drums

 

1959 was the year when Stan Kenton set up his jazz clinics at universities in Michigan and Indiana, so it is appropriate that he also played concerts like this at other colleges. His band at this time had shaken off the excesses of the "Innovations" orchestra and sounded more like a conventional big band, although retaining the bite that marked out Stan's bands as exciting ensembles. Kenton seemed to have a natural affinity with young people and the warm reception his band receives is evidence of his popularity.

The CD starts rather disconcertingly with a long, rambling spoken introduction by Stan. But things settle down when the band kicks into Bill Holman's Theme and Variations, a well-arranged piece as you would expect from Holman. There are no solos in this number but the following King Fish (also written and arranged by Bill Holman) is a blues with solos from tenorist Bill Trujillo, trumpeter Joe Burnett and baritone saxist Billy Root.

A concert like this was bound to include some of Stan's greatest hits, so we get Artistry in Rhythm and Intermission Riff. The audience takes a while to recognise the former with a round of applause and it has a clattering Latin-American rhythm, with the five-man trombone section giving its all. Bernie's Tune and I Concentrate On You are fairly orthodox arrangements of standards, with the first chance to hear solos from the masterly alto sax of Lennie Niehaus.

My Old Flame, arranged by Marty Paich, opens dramatically with opulent orchestration and an emotional tenor solo from Bill Trujillo. Johnny Richards' arrangement of Begin the Beguine sounds un-coordinated, with awkward rhythm, but it is almost saved by a spiralling solo from Lennie Niehaus, who is also featured at length in his own arrangement of The End of a Love Affair.

The forceful trombones state the opening and closing theme of Intermission Riff. Opus in Chartreuse is a fairly undistinguished big-band outing, but The Night We Called It A Day is richly orchestrated by Stan Kenton and A String Of Pearls adds punch to the old Glenn Miller favourite. The concert ends with Nightingale, a Latin feature for virtuosic trombonist Archie LeCoque.

The quality of the recording (taken by the dedicated Wally Weider) is adequate but occasionally lacks balance. The whole concert is enjoyable, despite a few sections which make the Kenton group sound like just another big band - instead of the powerful unit that hit us in the 1940s.

Tony Augarde



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