Stan swings more than usual
James A. Vedda | Alexandria, VA USA | 10/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Stan Kenton believed that jazz, especially large ensemble jazz, was primarily concert music aimed at discerning listeners. But he had to appeal to more popular tastes as well, and maintain a good "dance book" for the band. This album was one of his efforts in that direction. The 12 tracks are all familiar tunes of the day from Broadway musicals.
The classic Kenton style is clearly evident here in the strong rhythmic patterns and the powerful, in-your-face brass section, thanks to arranger Lennie Niehaus, who wrote all the charts in addition to playing lead alto sax. Lennie's writing swings more than the typical Kenton sound, but the band is clearly comfortable with this, and is as tight and clean as an ensemble can be.
There are moments of humor, such as the underlying pattern for "Lullaby of Broadway," which is a blatant adaptation of Kenton's "Intermission Riff." There are moments of sheer beauty, particularly the gorgeous arrangement of "I've Never Been in Love Before." In general, the arrangements are creative, even clever. The only one I found to be a bit weak is "Every Time We Say Goodbye," which doesn't have much development and includes a trumpet solo by Jack Sheldon, whose style never appealed to me. I was surprised to read in the liner notes that Lennie considered this arrangement his favorite of the set.
The tracks are short and the whole album is only about 32 minutes. Kenton aficionados will enjoy hearing this sampling of the band's more popular repertoire, which proved to be a very good seller when it first came out in 1958. If you're looking for some of Kenton's more innovative material from this era, try the albums "New Concepts in Artistry in Rhythm" and "The Innovations Orchestra.""
Album style is dated but it is a classic
RJQMAN | Florida, USA | 03/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed hearing Kentons' aggressive arrangements of Bali Hai, I Love Paris, and others again after many years. Truly a classic, although somewhat commercially compromised CD. I am a high school band director, and my students are playing these two Kenton charts this year (along with several others) - it is really very nice that the original recordings are still avaiable."