Stan Kenton/The Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra New Horizons, Volumes 1 & 2 Tantara Productions
Looking back on Stan Kenton, it's important to keep his bands in perspective. In '65, when these concerts were recorded, there just wasn't anything happening in big bands. Ellington was coasting, Basie was doing Beatles songs and Bond themes, and everyone was questioning the longevity of big bands. In rides Kenton to the rescue with the only permanent resident orchestra devoted to contemporary music, and a who's who of arrangers and soloists.
The first volume features sophisticated charts by Bill Holman, Marty Paich, Pete Rugolo, and Lalo Schifrin. The music is adventurous, dynamic and at times, even bombastic (but so is Mussorgsky); the orchestra goes from zero to sixty and stops on a dime. Every soloist, from Conte Candoli to Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, and Shelly Manne, shines in the spotlight. In particular, guitarist Laurindo Almeida is drop dead gorgeous on Rugolo's "Lush Waltz." Closing with "Concerto for Band and Piano No. 2," Kenton mixes classical and jazz better than any third stream advocate.
The second volume features more of the same high quality, but with the addition of clarinetist Buddy DeFranco taking the fiendishly difficult solo honors on Nelson Riddles' "Il Saltimbocca." All of the Kenton pieces belie the dismissal of "anti-jazz" and "lacking in swing." This band, while not exactly a first call for the Roseland Ballroom, has plenty of body-grabbing (as well as speaker-stressing) moments.
The five hour tour-de-force New Horizons set does show that it's taken forty years for the rest of the world to catch up to Kenton.
Vol 1, Disc 1 Fanfare for the New; Stan Kenton's remarks; Commencement; Lush Waltz; Opus for Tympani; Color It Brass; The Sphinx; Rhapsody in Blue; Artemis and Apollo; Neophonic Impressions '65 (64:53).
Vol 1, Disc 2 Trilogy; Conflict; Stan Kenton's remarks; Concerto for Band and Piano No. 2 (53:49).
Vol 2, Disc 1 Music for an Unwritten Play; Turtle Talk; Color It Green; Piece for Soft Brass, Woodwinds and Percussion; Waltz of the Prophets; The Invisible Orchard (excerpts); Stan Kenton's remarks; Il Saltimbocca (79:47).
Vol 2, Disc 2 Fata Morgana; Eurydice; Nofretette; Royal Flush; Xochiquetzal; Pavanne; Time Zone; Wagonsville; Encantado; Ofo; Recuerdos; La Suerte de los Tontos; Plata de Azul; Caravan (77:20).
Vol 1, Discs 1 and 2 Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra, Stan Kenton, conductor. Dalton Smith, Al Porcino, Conte Candoli, Ray Triscari, Ollie Mitchell, trumpet; Milt Bernhart, Bob Fitzpatrick, Frank Rosolino, trombone; Jim Amlotte, bass trombone; Red Callender, tuba; Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Buddy Collette, Jack Nimitz, Chuck Gentry, reeds; Vince DeRosa, John Cave, Bill Hinshaw, Arthur Maebe, Richard Perissi, French horn; Mike Lang, piano; Laurindo Almeida, guitar; John Worster, bass; Shelly Manne, drums; Emil Richards, Frank Carlson, percussion. Guest soloist Friedrich Gulda, piano.
Vol 2, Disc 1 Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra, Stan Kenton, conductor. Personnel essentially as Vol 1, Discs 1 and 2, but Ronnie Ossa, trumpet, for Ray Triscari; Gil Falco, Vern Friley, trombone, for Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino; John Lowe, baritone sax, for Jack Nimitz; Milt Raskin, piano, for Mike Lang; John Gray, guitar, for Laurindo Almeida. Guest soloist Buddy DeFranco, clarinet.
Vol 2, Disc 2 Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, New York Neophonic Orchestra Joel Kaye, leader; John Gatchell, Bob Millikan, Tom Rheam, Dean Pratt, John Eckert, trumpet; Gerry Chamberlain, Sam Burtis, Lew Kahn, trombone; Vinnie Fanuele, bass trombone; Dave Taylor, bass trombone, tuba; Dave Tofani, alto sax, clarinet, flute; Billy Kerr, tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Lew DelGatto, tenor sax, piccolo, oboe, flute, alto flute; Larry Charles, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Johnny Campo, baritone sax, contra-bass clarinet; Peter Gordon, Virginia Benz, Dave Jolley, Janet Donaruma, Bill Hamilton, Lloyd Rosevear, French horn; Johnny Knapp, piano; Jeff Layton, guitar; Joel Reiff, bass; Barry Lazarowitz, drums; Joe Daddiego (10), Latin percussion. Tracks 3, 6, 8, 9, 11-14, Neophonic Jazz Orchestra (Denver, CO) 3, 8, 9, Joel Kaye, conductor / arranger; Rich Chiaraluce, alto sax; Eric McGregor, Tom Myers, tenor sax; Franz Roehmann, baritone sax; Bob Beights, bass sax; John Davis, Chris Lawson, Forrest Means, Don Novy, Tony Klatka, Victor Jabry, James Barela, Tony Rodriguez, trumpet, flugelhorn; Jim Gray, Pat Blodgett, Jerry Barnett, Dave Wisk, trombone; Eddie Perez, bass trombone; Steve Traylor, bass trombone, tuba; Devon Park, Bill Bechman, Shelly Droe, Ron Torp, Mark Gibson, horns, mellophones; Drew Morell, piano; Ron Bland, bass; Derryl Goes, drums; John Akal, Latin percussion. 6, 11-14, Joel Kaye, conductor, arranger, piccolo, soprano sax; Pete Lewis, alto sax; Eric McGregor, Tom Myers, tenor sax; Franz Roehmann, baritone sax; Kevin Droe, bass sax; Paul McGinley, alto, tenor sax, piccolo; Tom Baker, Rick Jordan, John Bennett, Don Novy, Garner Pruitt, Chris Walters, trumpet; Glenn Shull, Donovan Moore, Alex Heitlinger, trombone; Jace van Bradt, Dave Conway, bass trombone; Dan Kibler, tuba; Tim Libby, Bill Beckman, Bill O'Beirne, Elaine Turner, Ron Torp, Bill Hamaker, horns, mellophones; John Armstrong, piano; Ron Bland, bass; Mike Marlier, drums; John Akal, Latin percussion.