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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
AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Dance Date 1958

Sounds of Yester Year DSOY862

 

 

1. Walking Shoes
2. Intermission Riff
3. Back In Your Own Backyard
4. My Ideal
5. Walkin' By The River
6. It Never Entered My Mind
7. Nice Work If You Can Get It
8. Don't Take Your Love From Me
9. The Big Chase
10. Old Devil Moon
11. Out Of This World
12. High On A Windy Hill
13. Day By Day
14. I Married An Angel
15. 23' N-82' W
16. Love Is Here To Stay
17. Black Coffee
18. I Hear Music
19. Tequila And Dogs (Cuban Mumble)
20. Artistry In Rhythm

Sam Noto, Jules Chaikin, Billy Catalano, Lee Katzman, Phil Gilbert - Trumpets
Kent Larsen, Archie LeCoque, Don Reed, Jim Arnlotte, Kenny Shroyer - Trombones
Lennie Niehaus, Bill Perkins, Richie Kamuca, Bill Robinson, Steve Perlow - Saxes
Stan Kenton - Piano
Red Kelly - Bass
Jerry McKenzie - Drums
Jan Tober, Kent Larsen - Vocals

 

Do not be misled by the title Dance Date 1958 of this Stan Kenton disc. This is not a dance band - it never was. The Kenton band of the early 1950s to the early 1960s was a swinging, daring aggregation propelled predominantly by the imaginative charts of Bill Russo and Bill Holman. Consequently this period turned out to be the most creative years of this band.

While the band was always undergoing personnel changes, and perhaps the trumpet section of this group might not have been as strong as when it contained Shorty Rogers, Conte Candoli and Maynard Ferguson, it still had Sam Noto on lead trumpet. The sax section had some great players such as Lennie Niehuas, Bill Perkins and Richie Kamuca, but Bill Holman had left the band a couple of years earlier, although he was still writing and arranging for the band.

The two cuts leading off this disc are typical of Kenton during this period: the Gerry Mulligan composition Walking Shoes and Ray Wetzel's Intermission Riff. The band had a strong brassy sound and was replete with musicians who were skilled technicians and fiery soloists. Richie Kamuca on tenor was at the forefront on both these compositions. The first of the six Bill Holman charts on this disc is Back In Your Own Backyard which features the vocalist Jan Tober. Only eighteen at the time of the recording, Tober was a temporary replacement for the band's usual singer Ann Richards (Mrs. Stan Kenton) who was away on a pregnancy leave. Like all Kenton singers, whether it was June Christie or Chris Connor, they all sounded very much the same, having a cool vibrato-less voice that was shaped by the band's style.

The Bill Holman arrangements on this session are all vocal charts for the aforementioned Jan Tober. That does not make them any less appealing. Whether it is for It Never Entered My Mind, Nice Work If You Can Get It or Out Of This World among others, the Holman effect is still there. The arrangements shape the entire piece, whereby there are ever-building chords, and the notes within the chords are changing. The other vocalist on this set is Kent Larsen, who was principally a trombonist. While he had a pleasurable voice, it was his attractive looks that put him in front of the band, although his renditions of Day By Day and I Married An Angel brought him accolades.

As for Bill Russo, his sole composition and arrangement is 23'N-82'W which are the map coordinates for Havana, Cuba (hence the Latin flavour of the composition). Kent Larsen on trombone and Lennie Niehaus on alto sax deliver the solos. There are a couple of other worthy items on the disc, namely the Marty Paich composition and arrangement of The Big Chase with the high-note trumpet playing of Sam Noto, and the solid drumming of the unheralded Jerry McKenzie. Finally the band's closing theme Artistry In Rhythm is done in a Latin mode which brings out all the power the band had to offer.

The recording on this disc is really very good and the performance is a marvellous snapshot of the band during a very productive phase.

Pierre Giroux

 



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