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Stan Kenton and His Orchestra: In a Lighter Vein


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Stan Kenton and His Orchestra: In a Lighter Vein
Stan Kenton was a man of many moods, as was his intrepid and popular orchestra, which endured until his passing in August 1979 and whose renown is kept alive even today by the Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra. Kenton dons his carefree hat on In a Lighter Vein, an assortment of straight-ahead themes from the orchestra's jazz library, preserved in five concert performances from 1953-55 beneath the umbrella of NBC radio's All Star Parade of Bands.

Original compositions by Gerry Mulligan, Bill Holman, Gene Roland, Earle H. Hagen, Ray Wetzel and George Shearing (the ever-popular "Lullaby of Birdland") are here, as are arrangements by Kenton, Holman, Pete Rugolo, Bill Russo and Johnny Richards, with guest appearances by Chris Connor, Ann Richards and the Four Freshmen. After the opening theme, Kenton introduces Mulligan's dynamic "Young Blood," and the orchestra is off and running. As for personnel, the orchestra harbors more than its share of all-star soloists—trumpeters Conte Candoli, Ernie Royal and Buddy Childers; saxophonists Lennie Niehaus, Bill Perkins, Lee Konitz, Charlie Mariano, Jack Nimitz and the incomparable Zoot Sims; trombonists Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana and Kent Larsen; guitarists Sal Salvador and Ralph Blaze—and a handful who were lesser known but no less talented, including trumpeters Vinnie Tanno, Don Dennis and Ed Leddy, tenor saxophonist Spencer Sinatra and bassists Max Bennett and Don Bagley.

Konitz has the nimble title selection—written for him by Holman—to himself, and those who remember only Konitz's "cool" side may be pleasantly surprised to hear him swinging as hard and as freely as any alto they're likely to hear. Also included are Holman's buoyant original, "Zoot," featuring you-know-who on tenor, and his classic arrangement of the Swing Era standard, "Stompin' at the Savoy." Those two numbers alone are worth the price of admission. But there's much more including vocals by the Four Freshmen ("It's a Blue World"), Connor ("Jeepers Creepers"), Richards ("Lullaby of Birdland") and the standards "Laura," "Sophisticated Lady," "I've Got You Under My Skin," " Moonlight in Vermont," "Body and Soul," "April in Paris," "S'Wonderful" (a showcase for trumpeter Dennis) and "My Funny Valentine" (likewise for Mariano's alto). Royal's high-note trumpet enhances Roland's bright original, "Jump for Joe" (which ends mid-note), " Childers' lyrical trumpet the standard "Autumn in New York."

While the vein may be lighter, the music is pure Kenton, which should be all the endorsement that's needed. For its time, sound quality is more than acceptable. Easily recommended to Kenton fans and music-lovers of all stripes. Four stars for Zoot and his fellow conspirators, especially Holman.

Track Listing

Theme and Introduction; Young Blood; Laura; ‘S Wonderful; Sophisticated Lady; In a Lighter Vein; It’s a Blue World; Jump for Joe; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; Autumn in New York; Taboo; Moonlight in Vermont; Jeepers Creepers; Harlem Nocturne; Body and Soul; Zoot; April in Paris; Intermission Riff; My Funny Valentine; Stompin’ at the Savoy; Lullaby of Birdland; Theme and Sign Off.


Stan Kenton: piano; Vinnie Tanno: trumpet; Spencer Sinatra: saxophone, tenor; Lennie Niehaus: saxophone, alto; Al Porcino: trumpet; Sal Salvador: guitar; Frank Rosolino: trombone; Don Dennis: trumpet; Conte Candoli: trumpet; Lee Konitz: saxophone, alto; Ernie Royal: trumpet; Buddy Childers: trumpet; Zoot Sims: saxophone, tenor; Bill Perkins: saxophone; Jack Nimitz: saxophone, baritone; Carl Fontana: trombone; Kent Larsen: trombone; Charlie Mariano: saxophone, alto; Max Bennett: bass; Ralph Blaze: guitar.

Additional Instrumentation

Ed Leddy: trumpet; Chris Connor: vocal; Ann Richards: vocal; the Four Freshmen: vocal.

Album information

Title: In a Lighter Vein | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Sounds of Yesteryear

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