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



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STAN KENTON
AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Flying High In Florida 1972

Sounds Of Yester Year DSOY 934

 

 

1. A Little Minor Booze

2. Theme For Autumn

3. Stompin’ At The Savoy

4. Girl Talk

5. Fragments Of A Portrait

6. Just Bones

7. Walk Softly

8. Malaga

9. The Duchess

10. Chiapas

 

Jay Saunders, Dennis Noday, Mike Vax, Ray Brown, Mike Snusread – Trumpets

Dick Shearer, Mike Jamieson, Fred Carter – Trombones

Mike Wallace, Phil Herring – Bass trombones

Quin Davis – Alto sax

Richard Torres, Chris Galuman – Tenor sax

Willie Maiden, Chuck Carter – Baritone sax

Stan Kenton – Piano

John Worster – Bass

Jerry ‘Lestock’ McKenzie – Drums

Ramon Lopez – Conga, bongos

 

In his biography, Stan Kenton: This Is An Orchestra, the author Michael Sparke writes that Kenton had the following view with respect to any orchestra he led: “I wanted every arrangement to be a production in itself. Spirit and enthusiasm had to predominate at all times. I wanted to present swing in as elevated a manner as possible”. There are those critics who suggest that the various Kenton orchestras might have failed to live up to these ideals, that the arrangements became ponderous, and the band never swung. However this iteration of the band that was on this recording Flying High In Florida 1972 would certainly belie those criticisms.

It might also have been appropriate to call this group Stan Kenton’s Latin Band since all the arrangements are strongly influenced by the congas and bongos of Ramon Lopez and they add a swinging depth that helps drive the band. This was in addition to drummer Jerry McKenzie who had been with the band for some time and knew how to push the arrangements. This is evident with the first track A Little Minor Booze which establishes the base line with this swinger showcasing solos from altoist Quin Davis and trumpeter Ray Brown (not to be confused with the bassist of the same name). Although tenor saxophonist Bill Holman had long departed from the band, his arrangements lived on and Stompin’ At the Savoy was one of his most enduring. Brown’s trumpet and the tenor sax of Richard Torres are featured.

Neal Hefti and Bobby Troup wrote Girl Talk for the 1965 movie Harlow and the song was described by singer Michael Feinstein as the “last great male chauvinistic song written in the 1960s”. Kenton’s dense arrangement does credit to the tune in an understated swinging way. Trombonists Mike Jamieson, Dick Shearer and Fred Carter do a number on an infrequently played Mark Taylor original composition Just Bones. The Latin-themed session goes into high gear with another Bill Holman original Malaga that features trombonist Jamieson, tenor saxophonist Richard Torres and trumpeter Dennis Noday. The recording ends with a Hank Levy original Chiapas which takes its name from Mexico’s most southerly region and the one in which Graham Greene set one of his most evocative novels The Power and the Glory. The Mexican influence courses though Levy’s commanding arrangement. Stan Kenton was a bandleader until near the end of his life, as he stopped touring in August 1978, and died a year later. As an example of the “Kenton Style” with a Latin touch, this release is as good as it gets.

Pierre Giroux



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