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Stan Kenton and His Orchestra: Roots

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Stan Kenton and His Orchestra: Roots
Roots is a most appropriate title for this series of concerts by the Stan Kenton Orchestra recorded in 1944-45 on behalf of the Armed Forces Radio Service. While the sessions do include a handful of staples from the Kenton book ("Eager Beaver," "Reed Rapture," "Tampico," the well-known "Artistry in Rhythm" theme), it's clear that Kenton and the orchestra hadn't yet developed the singular persona that enabled it to safeguard its place among the front ranks of contemporary big bands until Kenton's untimely passing in August 1979. In 1944-45, the orchestra was more dance band than cutting-edge jazz ensemble.

Even so, it was a very good orchestra for the time, an opinion that is borne out time and again on these early recordings, whose sound quality is remarkable for music that was taped so long ago, long before the advent of hi-fi, stereo and other modern recording devices and techniques. And even before the orchestra was fully framed, Kenton always had a number of first-class soloists. Those heard here include trumpeter Buddy Childers, alto Boots Mussulli and tenor Vido Musso. A second tenor, Red Dorris, is featured throughout the first of the three "one night stands," recorded at Pasadena's Civic Auditorium on January 14, 1944, soloing on most numbers and singing on two: "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me" and "I'll Be Around." Dorris isn't heard from again, as Mussulli and Childers are the main soloists on the second session, recorded on September 20, 1945, at the Hotel Pennsylvania's Café Rouge in New York City, Musso on a briefer broadcast from the Hollywood Palladium, recorded in November 1945.

There is one bonus track, from October 15, 1945 (venue unlisted), a vocal by June Christy on "I Don't Want to Be Loved." Christy, one of the orchestra's more well-known singers, is heard earlier on "It's Been a Long, Long Time" and on two versions of one of Kenton's biggest hits, "Tampico." Kenton's composition "Reed Rapture," written for saxophones and rhythm, is introduced on the first broadcast and repeated on the second. Also on that session, Gene Howard is the vocalist on "And There You Are" and "I Wish I Knew," while Childers is featured with Mussulli on "I Surrender Dear." High-note trumpeter Ray Wetzel does double duty, playing and singing on "I Can't Get Started" from the third session, while the first one includes a rare recorded vocal by Dolly Mitchell on "Shoo Shoo Baby."

Other standards include Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine," Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein's "Ol' Man River," the Gershwin brothers' "The Man I Love" (featuring Mussulli) and Johnny Green/Edward Heyman's "Body and Soul" (the third session's sign-off, arranged by and featuring Musso). Early Kenton, yes, but as is true of any Kenton album, teeming with musical treasures. Superb sound quality and a playing time of roughly seventy-seven minutes make Roots an almost irresistible pleasure.

Track Listing

January 14, 1944—Introduction: Artistry in Rhythm; Begin the Beguine; Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me; Eager Beaver; Shoo Shoo Baby; Ol’ Man River; I’ll Be Around; Reed Rapture; The Goon Came On; Harlem Folk Dance; Sign Off: Eager Beaver. September 20, 1945— Introduction: Artistry in Rhythm; Blue Skies; And There You Are; Tampico; I Surrender Dear; Southern Scandal; It’s Been a Long, Long Time; The Man I Love; I Wish I Knew; Reed Rapture; Sign Off: Artistry in Rhythm. November 1945—Theme: Artistry Jumps; I Can’t Get Started; Tampico; Body and Soul/Sign Off. Bonus track: October 15, 1945—I Don’t Want to Be Loved.

Personnel

Ken Hannah
trumpet
John Carroll
trumpet
Karl George
trumpet
Freddie Zito
trumpet
Ray Wetzel
trumpet
Eddie Meyers
saxophone, alto
Boots Mussulli
saxophone, baritone
Al Anthony
saxophone, alto
Red Dorris
saxophone, tenor
Joe Rizzo
saxophone, tenor
Vido Musso
saxophone, tenor
Harry Forbes
trombone
Additional Instrumentation

Bob Varney: drums; Charlie Shirley, Dolly Mitchell, Gene Howard, June Christy: vocals.

Album information

Title: Roots | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Submarine Records


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