Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Stan Kenton Orchestra 1952-53

Coming after the Innovations Orchestra and before the much beloved Back to Balboa [1955] and Contemporary Concepts [1958] band, the 1952-53 Kenton Orchestra sometimes referred to a the New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm band can be overlooked. It shouldn't be for all the reasons outlined in the following.

“In 1952 Kenton formed what was to be his best band from the viewpoint of the jazz audiences. It was introduced to the public on record with the issue of Prologue, two standard-speed couplings comprising a Johnny Richards score which featured every member of the new band after a spoken introduction by Kenton. The new musicians included some whose roots were deep in the jazz idiom. Taking most of the solos in the trumpet section (co-led by Maynard Ferguson and Buddy Childers) was Conte Candoli, one of the most consistent of the new men. On lead alto was Vinnie Dean, who, under the name of Vince de Vittorio, had been responsible for the alto solos in Charlie Barnet's 1949 band. Lee Konitz was the featured alto soloist, making his return to regular big-band employment after an absence of five years. A new name, Richie Kamuca, was introduced on tenor saxophone revealing himself to be a fine, swinging musician in the best possible tradition. Bill Holman was the second tenorman and proved his worth both instrumentally and as an important arranger. In the trombone section Frank Rosolino's tremendous technique brought an exciting sound to the band, while the rhythm section made up of Kenton, Sal Salvador on guitar, Don Bagley on bass and Stan Levey on drums was the most fluid and relaxed ever to play with the band. Levey was a vital addition to the band; he was one of the earliest white musicians to grasp the newer jazz style of Gillespie and Parker in the mid- 1940s. His influence on the Kenton band was apparent on all its concert and record performances.

The music produced by this band acknowledged the essentials of jazz, namely the qualities of swing, relaxation and beat.”

  • Alun Morgan and Raymond Horricks, Modern Jazz: A Survey of Developments Since 1939 [1956]