Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Sketches on Standards
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
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John Tapscott | Canada | 04/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stan Kenton had a well-deserved reputation for being a musical progressive, but that was only part of his musical persona. Quite frankly, no big band covered the great American standards as well as Kenton's. The fourteen standards included here were recorded between early 1953 and early 1956, a peak period in Kenton's creative world. While these arrangements were part of the Kenton dance book, they are much more than just dance music, but stand up as superb listening music decades later. Each arrangement has great respect for the melodies, but uncovers and adds great depths which makes these tunes very memorable.
Kenton always hired the best arrangers and gave them great musical freedom, although you would never identify Kenton's band as anyone else's. The key arranger here is Bill Russo who contributes 7 arrangements, Kenton himself 3, Joe Coccia 2, Johnny Richards and Lennie Niehaus 1 each.
Kenton not only hired the best arrangers, but also the best musicians. Therefore, the band's performance is brilliant, and you get to hear superb soloists such as Conte Candoli on Pennies From Heaven, Lee Konitz on Lover Man, trombonist Bob Burgess on Over The Rainbow, and Frank Rosolino on Malaguena. Altoist Lennie Niehaus is sparkling form on I'm Glad There is You. Maynard Ferguson's brilliant high note work sparks Sophisticated Lady. The sound is clear and beautifully remastered, warm and clear. Every track is outstanding. Highly recommended."
Superb big band dance music
Jon Warshawsky | San Diego, CA USA | 07/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another in the first rate series of collections of dance music that the Kenton band recorded in order to remain financially afloat even as its leader pushed the envelope when it came to innovation. Oddly, or perhaps not, these early arrangements (this set recorded in 1953) represent some of the most timeless of Stan Kenton's recordings. Sketches On Standards almost never shouts -- listen to the later Cuban Fire album for gale force brass and rhythm -- but nor does it sleepwalk.A Latin-tinged 'Begin the Beguine' makes a rare and welcome appearance, arranged by Kenton himself, simply and effectively. Bill Russo's arrangement of 'Fascinatin' Rhythm' is a highlight, more complex and benefitting from Lee Konitz' always capable alto sax. 'There's a Small Hotel' is a nice slow dance number, and the list goes on.Fans of the louder, leading edge Kenton may find this album quiet. Technically, it represents some very appealing, straightforward recordings of songs that showcase the talent of this group. Most welcome is that Kenton's own piano is not buried in the walls of sound so common to his later efforts.If you are new to Stan Kenton, this might not be the place to start because there are other better known albums that overshadow Sketches on Standards. Sound quality is excellent for 1953, however, and the tracks are well chosen. For those times when you want to enjoy first rate jazz without necessarily waking up the neighborhood, it would be hard to argue with the current album."
Flawless renditions of great arrangements
James A. Vedda | Alexandria, VA USA | 05/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's amazing how a collaboration between talented arrangers and great players can bring new life to tunes we've heard at least a thousand times. Half of the 14 tracks in this collection were arranged by Bill Russo, the remainder being the work of notables such as Lennie Niehaus, Johnny Richards, and Kenton himself. Among the musicians in this all-star band are Maynard Ferguson, Conte Candoli, and Buddy Childers on trumpet; Lee Konitz, Bill Holman, Bob Cooper, Richie Kamuca, and Jimmy Giuffre on saxes; Frank Rosolino, Bob Burgess, and Carl Fontana on trombone; and Mel Lewis on drums. If you recognize all or most of these names, then you know the caliber of this recording. If you don't, it's time for you to be introduced to them.
Some highlights: a mellow "Sophisticated Lady" with nice solos and a bit of in-your-face brass; an arrangement of "Begin the Beguine" that will make you forget about the way Artie Shaw played it; "Lover Man" as a superb alto feature for Konitz; one of Candoli's best recorded solos in "Pennies From Heaven"; excellent solo and ensemble work in "Fascinatin' Rhythm"; a warm and tender "I'm Glad There Is You" with a gorgeous Niehaus alto solo; and Rosolino, brilliant as always, soloing on four tracks. Need I say more?
The original 1953 release was a 10-inch LP that included only the first eight tracks. Two of the six bonus tracks came from the same session, while the rest were recorded in 1955-56. The package includes a booklet with informative liner notes written for the CD release. The tracks are short, yielding a total time of only about 42 minutes, but you'll be impressed with how much big band enjoyment can be packed into three-quarters of an hour."