Stan Kenton-UW Eau Claire / Kirk MacDonald Orchestra / Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

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Stan Kenton Orchestra/UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble 1

Double Feature, Vol. 3

Tantara Productions

2012

Volume 3 in Tantara's ongoing two-CD series of Double Features, encompassing heretofore unissued music by the Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
Orchestra and guests, covers parts of five Kenton concerts spanning the years 1971-77 on Disc 1, and presents a dozen never-recorded charts by Dee Barton, Bill Fritz, Joe Coccia, Hank Levy
Hank Levy
1927 - 2001
sax, tenor
, Willie Maiden
Willie Maiden
b.1928
and Ken Hanna
Ken Hanna
b.1921
, performed by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble, on Disc 2.

Director Robert Baca's UW-Eau Claire band has some large shoes to fill, having supplanted the excellent DePaul University Ensemble (Volume 1) and Nova Jazz Orchestra (Volume 2), and does so admirably, in spite of having had time for only one rehearsal before each of the recording sessions (there were three). Baca's enterprising undergrads show respectable chops and a solid empathy for the music, from Barton's groovy "Swing Machine" through Levy's powerful treatment of Ernest Gold's theme from the movie Exodus. There's one more Hollywood motif, David Raksin's haunting theme from The Bad and the Beautiful, this one arranged by Fritz, as well as one folk song, "Scarborough Fair," arranged by Maiden who composed and arranged the upbeat "Harold's Club or Bust." The trumpet soloist on that one, last name Bartlett, isn't listed among the personnel.

Coccia is represented by a pair of his breezy compositions, "North Wind" and "West Wind," Levy (again) by his own "Stillness Runs Deep," "Tribute," the ardent "Bop City Revisited" and swaying "Terracotta," Hanna by the deep-hued, brooding and ultimately rhythmic "Lunada," which he wrote and arranged. The ensemble welcomes as guest soloists three alumni: pianist Josh Gallagher ("Lunada," "Terracotta," "Exodus") and trumpeters Tom Krochock ("West Wind," "Stillness," "Exodus") and John Raymond
John Raymond
John Raymond
b.1985
trumpet
("North Wind"). Other soloists of note are alto saxophonists Aaron Hedenstrom and Brian Handeland, trumpeter Joe Niemann, pianist Brandon Covelli and a tenor on "Terracotta" whose surname is Luer (again unlisted). If UW-Eau Claire never quite rises to the level of DePaul or Nova, that can be attributed in part to the meager rehearsal time coupled with relatively unimpressive sound quality and balance.

Turning to the Kenton concerts (Disc 1), they open in grand style at Indiana State University in September '71 with Barton's enchanting arrangement of the standard "Here's That Rainy Day," a tour de force for the trombone section that opens more slowly than usual and builds to a cataclysmic crescendo before the tranquil coda. Three months earlier, at Drury College in Springfield, MO, with Kenton under the weather and replaced at the keyboard by Claude Sifferlen, the orchestra takes advantage of his absence by performing a couple of hard-swinging charts by Lennie Niehaus
Lennie Niehaus
Lennie Niehaus
b.1929
composer/conductor
("A Foggy Day," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea") and Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman
b.1927
sax, tenor
's burnished arrangement of Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," written for Bill Perkins
Bill Perkins
Bill Perkins
1924 - 2003
saxophone
and played here by tenor Richard Torres. Holman re-scored George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin
1898 - 1937
composer/conductor
's "Rhapsody in Blue" as a vehicle for baritone saxophonist Chuck Carter, while Ray Starling
Ray Starling
b.1933
arranged Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
1915 - 1967
piano
's "Take the 'A' Train," on which Carter moves to soprano sax to solo with Sifferlen, trombonist Mike Jamieson, drummer John Von Ohlen and high-note trumpeter Mike Vax
Mike Vax
Mike Vax

trumpet
.

The next five numbers were taped during concerts abroad, in February '72 (the Amsterdam Concertgebouw) and February '73 (Colston Hall, Somerset, England). Hank Levy's "Chiapas" and Maiden's arrangement of the theme from the movie Love Story (introduced by Kenton's piano) were gleaned from the Concertgebouw, Levy's dynamic "Samba Siete," Holman's "The Daily Dance" and Kenton's glossy arrangement of Bobby Troup
Bobby Troup
Bobby Troup
1918 - 1999
piano
/ Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
1922 - 2008
trumpet
's "Girl Talk" from Somerset. Great work here by drummer Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
and percussionist Ramon Lopez
Ramon Lopez
Ramon Lopez
b.1961
drums
. Fast forward four years for the remaining three selections, taken from a one-nighter in May '77 at the Lancer Steak House in Schaumburg, IL. Levy's carefree "Pegasus" raises the curtain, followed by Bob Curnow's turbulent "Inner Crisis," and the orchestra wraps things up with Kenton's arrangement of Kurt Weill / Maxwell Anderson's "September Song" from the Broadway musical Knickerbocker Holiday, on which the members of the band become a vocal chorus. The soloists are flugel Clay Jenkins
Clay Jenkins
Clay Jenkins
b.1964
trumpet
and soprano Michael Bard ("Pegasus"), Bard again ("Crisis") and Jenkins ("September Song").

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