395

Stan Kenton: The Innovations Orchestra

By

Sign in to view read count
Stan Kenton: The Innovations Orchestra In 1950 and 1951 Stan Kenton assembled a 40-piece orchestra (his standard 19-piece big band supplemented by strings) and presented the first significant attempt at evolving the dance band into an ensemble more closely resembling the symphony orchestra. The resulting music was what later came to be known as "third stream," that is, combining the elements of big band jazz and symphonic music into a unique hybrid. The Innovations Orchestra was an outstanding musical success, but from a financial standpoint, Kenton found out that doubling the size of a big band increased his expenses four-fold. Nevertheless, in two years the Innovations Orchestra recorded some of the finest symphonically-influenced jazz music of the twentieth century. It is not extravagent to say that without the trailblazing example of the Innovations Orchestra there would have never been a Don Ellis Orchestra or the music of Gunther Schuller and John Lewis.

In addition to Kenton, the roster of composers who contributed scores to the Innovations Orchestra reads like a Who's Who of American jazz at midcentury: Pete Rugolo, Johnny Richards (the composer of the Adventires in Time album), Bill Russo, Franklyn Marks, Neal Hefti, Shorty Rogers, Manny Albam, Bob Graettinger (who later composed the controversial "City of Glass") and Brazilian guitar virtuoso Laurindo Almeida. One of the fascinating things about the music of the Innovations Orchestra is that many of the compositions—like those of Duke Ellington's—were written with specific soloists in mind. In fact, a number of the charts have titles taken from the names of the musicians for whom they were originally written: "Art Pepper," "Maynard Ferguson," Shelly Manne," "June Christy" and "Coop's Solo" (for tenor man Bob Cooper).

Although two-CD compilation includes 30 compositions, a few of the charts deserve to be singled out for special attention. Bill Russo's "Solitaire" is a haunting melody that features the full-throated trombone of Milt Bernhart. In this piece one can hear the first inklings of a talent that would later go on to produce such innovative compositions for jazz orchestra like "Egdon Heath." Additionally, the Bob Graettinger compositions, "Incident in Jazz" and "House of Strings" display the protean skills of a composer who was at least fifty years ahead of his time and whose music is still being deciphered to this very day by scholars.

Some critics have complained that what Kenton attempted with the Innovations Orchestras wasn't really jazz, that it didn't swing, that it was too cerebral. Well, it's almost impossible to think of a musical ensemble including both Maynard Ferguson and Art Pepper not swinging. The Innovations Orchestra was quite capable of swinging and it did much of the time. But it was also capable of producing music of an extraordinarily high quality that makes one think in addition to making one's toes tap.


Track Listing: Mirage; Conflict; Solitaire; Soliloquy; Theme For Sunday; Amazonia; Lonesome Road; Trajectories; Incident In Jazz; Cuban Episode; Evening In Pakistan; Salute; Mardi Gras; In Veradero; Jolly Rogers; Blues In Riff; Cello-logy; Art Pepper; Halls Of Brass; Maynard Ferguson; Shelly Manne; June Christy; House Of Strings; Round Robin; Coop's Solo; Sambo; Ennui; Samana; Coop's Solo (alternate take); Salute

Personnel: Includes: Stan Kenton, Innovations Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson, Art Pepper, Bob Cooper, Laurindo Almeida.

Title: The Innovations Orchestra | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Capitol Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Can't Get Started CD/LP/Track Review Can't Get Started
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 24, 2017
Read Viriditas CD/LP/Track Review Viriditas
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 24, 2017
Read Jorg Schippa's Kiosk CD/LP/Track Review Jorg Schippa's Kiosk
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 24, 2017
Read Soul Trio CD/LP/Track Review Soul Trio
by Anthony Shaw
Published: August 24, 2017
Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "A Secret Sigh" CD/LP/Track Review A Secret Sigh
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Ma De Re Sha" CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "14.11.2016" CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Here on Earth" CD/LP/Track Review Here on Earth
by Doug Collette
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Burnt Hibiscus" CD/LP/Track Review Burnt Hibiscus
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Dialectrical" CD/LP/Track Review Dialectrical
by John Sharpe
Published: June 19, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.