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Album Review

Stan Kenton and His Orchestra: Concert on the Pacific

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Stan Kenton and His Orchestra: Concert on the Pacific
The Stan Kenton Orchestra's Concert on the Pacific is actually a compendium of several concerts recorded between January and March 1958 at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, California—a series that almost emptied Kenton's wallet and caused him to pause and regroup a year or so later. While this was post-Rosolino/Sims/Konitz/Levey, the Kenton Orchestra was never without its share of outstanding soloists, in this case saxophonists Lennie Niehaus, Bill Perkins, Richie Kamuca and Bill Robinson; trumpeters Sam Noto, Billy Catalano and Lee Katzman; and trombonists Kent Larsen, Archie LeCoque and Kenny Shroyer. Arrangers included Johnny Richards, Joe Coccia, Bill Holman, Gerry Mulligan, Gene Roland and Pete Rugolo.

The Sunday afternoon concerts were broadcast live on the NBC radio network, ensuring that sound quality is generally bright and clear. As for the music, it is pure Kenton—screaming brass, spiraling counterpoint, brash rhythms, lustrous ballads—with engaging vocals on two of the twenty numbers ("Old Devil Moon," "It Never Entered My Mind") by Ann Richards. Several themes are from Kenton's "dance book," the others from the jazz library. While everything is first-class, the instrumental arrangements by Mulligan ("Swing House") and Holman ("Everything Happens to Me," "What's New," "I Remember You," "Cherokee") must be denoted as highlights, as their swing quotient is off the chart. Each of those masters did some of his best work for Kenton, as evidenced here.

The concert portfolio opens and closes with arrangements by Johnny Richards—"Beyond the Blue Horizon," "I Concentrate on You"— that were reprised on the album Back to Balboa, as was his dramatic take on Cole Porter's "Get Out of Town" (featuring Shroyer) and Richards' own "Rendezvous at Sunset." Rugolo arranged Porter's "Love for Sale," Roland his original, "Jump for Joe," Coccia half a dozen numbers from the dance book. The rhythm, as is always the case with Kenton, is in capable hands, namely those of bassist Red Kelly and drummer Jerry McKenzie with Kenton at the piano. The solos by Niehaus, Perkins and Noto are alone worth the price of admission, whatever that may have been. In sum, seventy-four minutes of marvelous music by the exemplary Stan Kenton Orchestra make this one a keeper.

Track Listing

Beyond the Blue Horizon; Love Letters; Begin the Beguine; Everything Happens to Me; High on a Windy Hill; What’s New; Two Shades of Autumn; Swing House; Walkin’ by the River; Love for Sale; I Should Care; It Never Entered My Mind; Old Devil Moon; I Remember You; Get Out of Town; Evening; Jump for Joe; Cherokee; Memories of You; I Concentrate on You.

Personnel

Stan Kenton: piano; Jules Chaikin: trumpet; Billy Catalano: trumpet; Sam Noto: trumpet; Lee Katzman: trumpet; Phil Gilbert: trumpet; Lennie Niehaus: saxophone, alto; Bill Perkins: saxophone; Richie Kamuca: saxophone, tenor; Bill Robinson: saxophone, baritone; Steve Perlow: saxophone, baritone; Kent Larsen: trombone; Archie LeCoque: trombone; Don Reed: trombone; Jim Amlotte: trombone; Kenny Shroyer: trumpet; Red Kelly: bass; Jerry McKenzie: bass; Ann Richards: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: Concert on the Pacific | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Sounds of Yesteryear


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