Kenton Pushing the Limits of Jazz
Sussex Pond Pudding | Somewhere in the desert, CA | 06/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an important and neglected album of Bob Graettinger tunes and arrangements by the greatest big band of all time. Weird? Yes, but incredibley rewarding. Stan Kenton was always on the forefront of jazz, discovering future stars, challenging the status quo and experimenting musically in a style of jazz that has traditionally been rather conservative. No one else would have paid any attention to Graettinger, especially in the 1940's and 1950's, but Kenton, to his credit, gave him a chance and the music he left us is inspirational."
A true gem of American culture
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't help amazement at the neglect of The City of Glass and This Modern World. Where Gershwin was blending (admittedly pretty) tunes from jazz and the classical musical styles of the '20s and becoming popular, Kenton did exactly the same with the classical styles of the '50s via composers such as Graettinger. Unfortunately, the serially inspired compositional techniques of the '50s did not produce tunes that are easy to whistle or swoon over after a glass or two of wine. However, these works are highly developed. One doesn't have to go far into any of the movements to realise how much has been done with the thematic material at hand. About 'classical' musical styles of the fifties, I'd given up on Webern and Schoenberg and the few who followed that route, but surrendered to Kenton/Graettinger/Russo (et al) with ease. The works have a vibrance, a life, a turbulence and dissonance that so reflected the fifties as a cultural epoch, especially in the States which became the seat of artistic innovation at that time. I have never ceased to be amazed at how Kenton managed to create these works at all. Admittedly, he had true virtuosi like Maynard Ferguson and Johnny Graas (and many others), but the act of keeping the expanded innovations orchestra in control must have given him a real headache. But he did it. And I still sit there spellbound as I did on my first hearing (via 10-inch LPs). These works aren't for the faint-hearted. But they are for anyone who wants to experience the limits to which Kenton pushed music. They will probably appeal more to "classical" enthusiasts focused on 50s/60s Americana than jazz afficionados. It's almost an afterthought to add that Capitol's engineers have made gorgeous transfers of these recordings."
kibblenibbler | CT | 11/17/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"as bad as some of the reviewers here make it out to be; of course, it is hardly as impressive as Charles Mingus's Let My Children Hear Music, either, to which it is somewhat incorrectly (in this listener's estimation) compared to elsewhere on amazon. the only apparent similarity between these 2 recordings is that they both feature large-group jazz. that said, perhaps City of Glass's problem lies in the fact that it is a compilation of sorts, as opposed to a work which was, from the get go, like Mingus's masterpiece, conceived of/intended as a unified whole. still, Thermopylae is a truly striking bit of music, especially so considering the decade in which it was recorded..."