Stan Kenton: With the Danish Radio Big Band (1966)
In March 1966 Stan Kenton spent a week in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the invitation of Ib Glindemann, director of the New Dance Band of Radio Denmark (popularly known as the Danish Radio Big Band, now the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra). During that time he conducted the DRBB in concert at Copenhagen’s Radio Concert Hall. As a part of its fiftieth anniversary celebration, Storyville Records has made the concert performance available on CD, and if the sound were better it would be a masterpiece.
Even so, it’s an historic event, one whose reappearance on disc every Kenton enthusiast should welcome. Stan didn’t often conduct orchestras other than his own, and the DRBB, then in its infancy, responds to his peerless leadership with inspired blowing throughout and excellent solos by trumpeters Allan Botschinsky, Palle Mikkelborg and ex-pat Idrees Sulieman, alto star Rolf Billberg (who died soon afterward), tenors Bent Jaedig and Uffe Karskov, trombonist Torolf Mølgaard and others. The concert opens with Bill Holman’s dynamic arrangement of “Malaguena,” includes three more of his memorable charts (“Stella by Starlight,” “Limehouse Blues,” “Yesterdays,” the last featuring Karskov’s Perkins-influenced tenor), a couple of shapely original compositions by Gene Roland (“The Blues Story,” “Dragonwyck”), Pete Rugolo’s lush “Interlude” (spotlighting Stan’s piano), Rugolo’s Latin-style treatment of Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” and Kenton’s lingering look at the lovely standard “I’m Glad There Is You” before closing (except for brief remarks by Stan, a fanfare and Glindemann’s signature theme, “It’s the Talk of the Town”) with two enterprising compositions by Johnny Richards, “Artemis and Apollo” and the electrifying “Cuban Fire!” suite.
Billberg, a masterful stand-in for Lee Konitz, is superb on his ballad showcase, “Stella,” as is Karskov on “Yesterdays,” and none of the other soloists is less than engaging. The rhythm section, anchored by drummer Bjarne Rostvold, includes young Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen on bass. Another colossal “Kenton concert,” marred to some extent by less-than-satisfactory sound but admirable enough in every other respect to warrant an endorsement.
Track Listing: Artistry in Rhythm; Malaguena; I
Personnel: Stan Kenton, conductor, piano; Palle Mikkelborg, Idrees Sulieman, Allan Botschinsky, Palle Bolvig, Svend Lundvig, trumpet; Rolf Billberg, Erling Christensen, alto sax; Uffe Karskov, alto, tenor sax; Bent Jaedig, tenor sax; Bent Nielsen, baritone sax; Torolf M