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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stan Kenton Alumni Band: Road Scholars Live

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For more than twenty years, the Stan Kenton Alumni Band has kept the pulse of big-band jazz strongly beating through regular touring under the direction of trumpet master Mike Vax, who served as the Orchestra's first trumpet, soloist and road manager (and also spent one year leading The Dukes of Dixieland, a genuine New Orleans musical treasure) before assuming leadership of the Stan Kenton Alumni Band. Road Scholars Live captures this Band in their element: Blowing hot and cool through an encyclopedic survey of modern styles for an appreciative concert audience during their 2013 performance tour. It pulls ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Stan Kenton Alumni Band: Road Scholars

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Road Scholars? A clever title indeed, but these gentlemen (and three ladies) are more akin to “road maestros," an appraisal that is abundantly clear from A to Z on this latest recording by trumpeter Mike Vax's turbo-charged Stan Kenton Alumni Band, taped at various concerts during the band's 2013 spring tour, a two-week, three-thousand-mile odyssey that encompassed a dozen concerts in six states and the District of Columbia. About four thousand people were lucky enough to see and hear the band in person; the rest of us will have to make do with these fourteen imperfect snapshots culled from its ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Stan Kenton: Road Shows

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For younger readers: yes, there was a time long ago when large groups of talented jazz musicians traveled without respite from city to city and town to town, braving one-night stands or more night after night in (mostly) sold-out concert halls, dance halls, pavilions, nightclubs, schools and other venues. They were known as big bands, so enormously popular that they even had their own “era," and the world may never see their like again, at least not on the road. Fortunately for those of us who remain standing, some of their historic performances were recorded, and more than a few ...

BIG BAND REPORT

Did Stan Kenton Swing? You Bet Your Walkin' Shoes He Did...

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I've been listening to a lot of Stan Kenton's music recently while coming to grips with the age-old question, did the Kenton orchestra really swing? The answer, to me, is a no-brainer: Yes, Kenton swung. Liberally and often. [Note: This of course depends on how “swinging" is defined; opinions may vary]. In his own way--although he'd have been loath to admit it--Kenton's series of orchestras swung as hard as anyone, even Basie, Herman or Rich. For assurance, one need look no further than some of the arrangers Kenton employed--die-hard swingers such as Shorty Rogers, Bill Holman, Gerry Mulligan and Marty ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm - Portrait Of A Jazz Legend

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Stan KentonArtistry In Rhythm: Portrait Of A Jazz LegendJazzed Media2011 “I thought that [Stan] was an echo of life itself: that life is precious, life is exquisite, and life is magnificent. He lived it, and his legacy points to some of those values. Whether we are able to interpret them or not, they are there." That's noted jazz historian, educator and author Dr. Herb Wong, having (almost) the last word on Graham Carter's superlative documentary, Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm, and summarizing the legendary bandleader's life and legacy about as well ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Stan Kenton Alumni Band: Have Band, Will Travel (Live)

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Stan Kenton Alumni Band Have Band, Will Travel (Live) Summit Records 2010

For over two decades, trumpeter Mike Vax, a veteran of the 1970-72 Stan Kenton Orchestra, has been a tireless crusader maintaining the legacy of his erstwhile boss, who died at age 67 in 1979. Have Band, Will Travel (Live) is the Stan Kenton Alumni Band's fourth recording for the Summit label. It maintains the ensemble's commitment to Kenton not only through music performed by the original band, but also through modern compositions and arrangements which fit comfortably with the Kenton aesthetic. Audio ...

BIG BAND REPORT

Salute to Stan Kenton: Artistry in Contrast

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Artistry in Rhythm, the Ken Poston / Los Angeles Jazz Institute's 2009 homage to the renowned bandleader Stan Kenton, was held October 8-11 at the Sheraton LAX Four Points Hotel. As always, there was much to see, hear and admire: films, panel discussions, special presentations and, last but not least, no fewer than nineteen concerts by groups large and small including four lunchtime events at the Sheraton's outdoor swimming pool. A number of Kenton alumni were there, almost all of whom were performing in various ensembles and / or taking part in the panels. The music was, with at least ...



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