Here's another splendid two-disc anthology from Tantara Productions showcasing music from the capacious Stan Kenton library, performed on Disc 1 by the Kenton Orchestra circa 1972-76 and on Disc 2 by the Trinity College Big Band, Alumni Band and Symphony Orchestra in 2004 and 2007. Tantara has now released more than twenty albums, all devoted to music by Kenton, with several, like this one, including performances by a second ensemble, usually from a college or university.
Each of the eleven numbers on the Kenton CD was recorded in The Netherlands, the last five less than three years before Kenton's passing in August 1979. Most should be fairly well known to Kenton enthusiasts, with some possible exceptions: Hank Levy's "Fringe Benefit," which opens the '72 concert; Ken Hanna's mellow "Fragments of a Portrait" from '73; and from '76, Stevie Wonder's melodic "Too Shy to Say" and Bob Curnow's allusive "Inner Crisis." Also in '72, drummer John Von Ohlen is featured on "Artistry in Percussion," which precedes another of Levy's stalwart compositions, "Chiapas," and Bill Holman's fiery "Malaga." Besides "Fragments," the '73 concert embodies Holman's fast-paced flag-waver, "The Daily Dance." Peter Erskine is the drummer here, and he is more than up to the challenge. The session from '76 opens with Johnny Green's classic "Body and Soul" (with ornate intro by Kenton) and includes Stephen Sondheim's poignant "Send in the Clowns" and Chico O'Farrill's colorful salute to the conga master "Ramon Lopez." "Chiapas" is long and lively, cruising along behind earnest solos by trombonist Dick Shearer, soprano saxophonist Chuck Carter and trumpeter Ray Brown with Lopez and Von Ohlen providing the rhythmic spark. Tenor Richard Torres has much of "Malaga" to himself, traversing the tenor's full range while Lopez and Von Ohlen spur him on. Besides Kenton, Lopez and Shearer, the soloists in '76 include alto Terry Layne (featured on "Inner Crisis"), trumpeters Tim Hagans and Jay Sollenberger. And yes, the orchestra makes even Stevie Wonder swing.
Even though the Kenton orchestra isn't present, Disc 2 boasts a powerhouse lineup of guest soloists. On Tracks 1-5 they include Kenny Wheeler (trumpet), Peter King (alto sax) and Mark Nightingale (trombone); on Tracks 6-11, Nightingale and Gerard Presencer (trumpet, flugelhorn). By any measure, hardly a shabby group of ad libbers. All arrangements are by trombonist / Kenton alum Bobby Lamb. The first of two concerts (Tracks 1-5) opens with the Kenton favorite "Malaguena," continues with Pete Rugolo's opulent "Interlude" and closes with three selections from Johnny Richards' Cuban Fire suite: "Fuego Cubano," "Requerdos" and "La Suerte de los Tontos." King and Nightingale solo on "Cubano," and, owing to a sonic glitch that effaced Wheeler's solo, the muted trumpet solo is by Chicagoan Rob Parton who stepped in at the last minute to redress the error. The second performance, again with full symphony orchestra (105 musicians onstage), opens with Rugolo's "Salute" (featuring trombonist Lee Halam) and encompasses a pair of originals by Lamb ("Valentine Blue" and "Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra," the last a showpiece for Presencer), "The Peanut Vendor" and Shorty Rogers' ardent homage to "Art Pepper," with Piers Green sitting in for the legendary alto master, before closing with Kenton's familiar theme, "Artistry in Rhythm" (Sam Crowe, piano).
While the symphony orchestra lends Disc 2 a more decorative veneer, it is the orchestra and soloists who command attention, with Wheeler, King and Nightingale impressive on every appearance, as are Presencer on the seductive "Valentine Blue" and regal "Concerto," Hallam on "Salute," Green on "Art Pepper" and "Peanut Vendor." Sound quality is impressive, the running time on each disc a generous seventy-five-plus minutes. Another clear-cut winner from Tantara.
Disc 1 Fringe Benefit; Artistry in Percussion; Chiapas; Malaga; Fragments of a Portrait; The Daily Dance; Body and Soul; Too Shy to Say; Ramon Lopez; Send in the Clowns; Inner Crisis. Disc 2 Malaguena; Interlude; Fuego Cubano; Requerdos; La Suerte de los Tontos; Salute; Valentine Blue; The Peanut Vendor; Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra; Art Pepper; Artistry in Rhythm.
Disc 1 Tracks 1-4: Stan Kenton, piano, leader; Jay Saunders: trumpet; Dennis Noday: trumpet; Mike Vax: trumpet; Joe Marcinkiewicz: trumpet; Ray Brown: trumpet; Quin Davis: alto sax, flute; Kim Frizell: alto sax, flute; Richard Torres: tenor sax, flute; Willie Maiden: baritone sax; Chuck Carter: baritone, soprano sax, bass sax, flute; Dick Shearer: trombone; Mike Jamieson: trombone; Fred Carter: trombone; Mike Wallace: bass trombone; Phil Herring: bass trombone, tuba; John Worster: bass; John Von Ohlen: drums; Ramon Lopez: congas. Tracks 5-6: Kenton: piano, leader; Dennis Noday: trumpet; Frank Minear: trumpet; Paul Adamson: trumpet; Mike Snustead: trumpet; Bob Winkler: trumpet, flugelhorn; John Park: alto sax, flute; Richard Torres: tenor sax, flute; Chris Galuman: tenor sax, flute; Willie Maiden: baritone sax; Roy Reynolds: baritone sax, flute; Dick Shearer: trombone; Harvey Coonin: trombone; Lloyd Spoon: trombone; Mike Wallace: bass trombone; Phil Herring: bass trombone, tuba; John Worster: bass; Peter Erskine: drums; Ramon Lopez: congas. Tracks 7-11: Kenton: piano, leader; Jay Sollenberger: trumpet; Steve Campos: trumpet; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Dave Kennedy: trumpet; Joe Casano: trumpet; Terry Layne: alto sax, flute; Roy Reynolds: tenor sax, flute; Teddy Andersen: tenor sax, flute, piccolo; Alan Yankee: baritone sax, flute; Greg Metcalf: baritone sax, flute; Dick Shearer: trombone; Jeff Uusitalo: trombone; Mike Egan: trombone; Alan Morrissey: bass trombone; Douglas Purviance: bass trombone, tuba; John Worster: bass; Gary Hobbs: drums; Ramon Lopez: congas. Disc 2 Trinity College of Music Big Band: Jean-Paul GelVasoni: trumpet; Alex Maynard: trumpet; Owain Harries: trumpet; Dave Hopkin: trumpet; Freddie Gavila: trumpet; Piers Green, James Marsh, ZemAudu, Will Gibson, Laura Parker: saxophones; Lee Hallam: trombone; Chris Lowe: trombone; Eoghan Kelly: trombone; Matt Walton: trombone; Dave Eagleston: bass trombone; John Davy, Jamie Thomas, Ed Mills, Alex Harrild, Sam Pearce, Marc Woodhurst, Steve Nicholls, Danielle Flarty: horn; Tim Davy: tuba; Sam Crowe: keyboard; Matt Ridley: bass; Tim Nugent: drums. Trinity Alumni Band: Mike Lovatt: trumpet; Pablo Mendelssohn: trumpet; Steve Jones: trumpet; Tom Allan: trumpet; Joe Auchland: trumpet; Rupert Widdows, Mall Hope, Adrian Revell, Murray Morrison, Gavin Whitlock: saxophone; Mark Nightingale: trombone; Dave Uddell: trombone; Keith Hutton: trombone; Phil Hyde: trombone; John Dean: trombone; Sam Crowe: keyboard; Joe Petitt: bass; Matt Senior: drums; Patrick Davey: drums.
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