The Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra

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  • “New Horizons” by Terry Vosbein

    New Horizons

    by Terry Vosbein
    from the Tantara CD New Horizons, volume 1

    By the time Stan Kenton conducted the premiere concert of the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra in January of 1965 he had been leading a band for nearly a quarter of a century. For those twenty-five years he championed contemporary large ensemble jazz, featuring a who’s who of talented instrumentalists along the way. But make no mistake. The Kenton band in all of its incarnations was first and foremost a writer’s band. From the Stravinsky influenced Pete Rugolo to the hard swinging Bill Holman, Kenton encouraged his writers to explore new horizons.

    When the Neophonic Orchestra played that first concert Kenton took his support of innovative composition to a new level with the creation of a resident ensemble dedicated to the performance of contemporary jazz. “This is the second or third generation of jazz musicians, and the music of jazz is constantly evolving and developing,” he told the opening night crowd. “It is now time that we endeavor to establish a resident orchestra dedicated to the performance of this particular type of contemporary music.”

    In the middle of the 20th century every major city in the western world, as well as many smaller towns, boasted resident orchestras performing primarily European classical music. But in the first half century of its existence, jazz never had a similar permanent home. The Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra would change this.

    During the early 1960s socialite Dorothy Buffum Chandler led a group of citizens in raising twenty million dollars towards the creation of a Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. As the city was eagerly awaiting the opening if its new state of the art facility, Stan Kenton called a press conference at LA’s Ambassador Hotel. He announced the formation of the International Academy of Contemporary Music, a new organization with three purposes. The academy would promote the composition and performance of contemporary music. It would serve as a clearing house for contemporary music and musicians. And it would sponsor the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra, while encouraging the formation of other similar orchestras.

    The crown jewel of the Music Center was the 3200 seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. In December of 1964 the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra performed the opening gala concert conducted by its music director, Zubin Mehta. Less than a month later the Pavilion’s other resident orchestra premiered: the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra conducted by its music director, Stan Kenton. Jazz had a home.

    An initial season of four concerts was planned, approximately one each month beginning in January. The second season was similar, while the third and final season, after a year’s hiatus in 1967, contained three concerts. All were planned for Monday nights, a typical dark night for the classical music events that dominated the Pavilion’s schedule.

    Although Kenton made it clear that the Neophonic Orchestra was a separate entity from the Kenton Orchestra, there were many familiar faces on the stage that first night at the Music Center. Instrumentalists Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Conte Candoli, Al Porcino, Bob Fitzpatrick, Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino, John Worster, Shelly Manne and Laurindo Almeida were familiar to even the casual Kenton fan. But in spite of this generous helping of talent in the orchestra, the Neophonic belonged to the composers.

    Over five dozen composers and arrangers were featured during the three seasons of the Neophonic’s existence. They were given free reign by Kenton, encouraged to write without the limitation of commercial appeal. This fact in particular was attractive to the many composers chosen who had commercial writing gigs. Not coincidently, the composers selected for this first concert include several Kenton regulars.

    The brass dominated orchestra chosen for the first season of the Neophonic concerts consisted of five saxophones, five trumpets and five French horns, as well as four trombones and a tuba. To the traditional four piece rhythm section he added vibraphone and tympani. This basic instrumentation remained fairly constant throughout the eleven Neophonic concerts. String sections were incorporated twice. And guest ensembles appeared from time to time, including Don Ellis and the Hindustani Sextet, Shelly Manne and his Men and the North Texas State University One O’Clock Lab Band.

    Each concert featured one or more guest artists. Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith, Buddy DeFranco and Mel Torme all appeared with the Neophonic Orchestra during the first season. Critics have argued the merits of some of these performers as Neophonic artists. But no one could argue with the guest performer on the premiere concert, Viennese composer/pianist Friedrich Gulda.

    Gulda and Kenton seemed destined to collaborate. However different their music may be, they shared an appreciation for contemporary music that drew from both jazz and classical. When Gulda appeared on the opening Neophonic concert almost fifteen years had passed since his Carnegie Hall debut as a twenty year old classical pianist. Long before Wynton Marsalis demonstrated that one can perform in both idioms and be successful, Gulda was doing just that. His classical piano recordings were praised, particularly his Bach. In 1956 he cancelled a master class in Salzburg in order to play in New York at Birdland. He was an enigma to both sides of the fence, much like Kenton himself.

    Nearly everyone involved with the Neophonic concerts was paid for their services except the composers. And yet dozens of writers jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this piece of history. Interestingly, of the eight composers represented on this concert of America’s music (North America, that is), half were born outside of the United States: Rugolo from Sicily, Richards from Mexico, Lalo Schifrin from Argentina, Gulda from Austria. Of the twelve compositions on the opening concert, six were world premieres.
    Hugo Montenegro’s Fanfare for the New opened the first Neophonic season with a flourish, announcing at once that this would be no ordinary jazz concert. The brass enter one by one with a crescendo of rhythmic statements before the percussion players add their counterpoint. The stellar drum set work by Shelly Manne and the polyrhythmic tympani punctuations of Frank Carlson make significant contributions here, and throughout this evening of new music.

    Commencement is the opening movement of Johnny Richards’ Concerto for Orchestra, originally recorded on the album Kenton album Adventures in Time. With five loud chords announcing the start of this piece, the melody gets passed from low to high instruments as the tension mounts. And once the momentum starts there is no respite until the final decrescendo.

    When Laurindo Almeida first joined the Kenton band in 1947 he brought the classical guitar along with his Brazilian background to big band jazz. Lush Waltz was written to feature Almeida on Kenton’s 1958 string album Lush Interlude. Here Rugolo rescores his soft spoken string arrangement for the brass dominated Neophonic, once again featuring Almeida in the solo role.

    Opus for Tympani is a tour de force of tympani playing and choreography for Frank Carlson, prompting a pre-concert warning from a band mate to not trip during his cadenza. Surrounded by nine drums, Carlson plays the melody in the first go round of this mini concerto. A slow section follows a virtuosic cadenza. In the midst of this unhurried central segment we hear the familiar Kenton saxophone sound, reminiscent of early works such as Opus In Pastels. The original melody returns accompanied by dazzling up-tempo cymbal work by Manne and drum fills by Carlson.

    Color It Brass examines the warm hues of the jazz orchestra. Chorale-like lush harmonies crescendo and explode. And composer Marty Paich shows that tympani can be used delicately as they exchange soft fills with the brass.

    The Sphinx, daughter of Typhon, was the creature of mixed parentage whose unanswered riddle could lead to death. At least that was how the Greeks saw it. Set in a moderately fast swing tempo, the riddle here comes from the many contrapuntal lines made up of unusual accents and phrase lengths that composer Lalo Schifrin sets against one another.

    Rhapsody in Blue is the only work performed on this concert not arranged by its composer. Yet it seems an appropriate choice in this line-up of forward looking jazz compositions. The Rhapsody was written by George Gershwin for the historic 1924 performance by Paul Whiteman’s band. In Bill Holman’s capable hands it becomes a contemporary re-composition featuring Jack Nimitz on the baritone sax.

    Like Commencement, Artemis and Apollo is from Adventures In Time. In between quiet whole-tone piano statements at the beginning and end, Richards serves us a beautiful and romantic ballad. It is the tender and poignant side of these Greek twins that we hear. Conte Candoli provides a muted trumpet obbligato before turning over solo duties to trombonist Bob Fitzpatrick.

    Neophonic Impressions ’65 offers a lively multi-themed celebration of the Neophonic spirit. From the rhythmic fanfares and brass chords at the opening, Paich takes us in and out of moods and tempos. There are jazz waltzes alternating with slow sensual latin sections. A yearning alto solo by Bud Shank gives way to Bill Perkins’s introverted tenor and Candoli’s tender but swinging trumpet. Manne and Carlson both play extended solos before the orchestra reprises the slow latin groove and the jazz waltz.

    Trilogy is comprised of faster outer sections surrounding a slow romantic interior. After a slowly building introduction Holman weaves a unison swinging melody through the orchestra. The warm trumpet sound of Candoli takes over for the ballad segment. The tempo is picked back up with dense brass counterpoint. The ending fades to a texture reminiscent of the introduction, but hands us one last powerful statement of the theme to conclude.

    In early 1950 Kenton asked Rugolo to contribute material for the first Innovations tour. In one week he wrote Mirage, Conflict, Lonesome Road and Salute. In its original version Conflict featured the wordless vocals of June Christy. This is the progressive jazz Rugolo, evoking feelings of happiness and anxiety in the vein of his Impressionism and Abstraction.

    Music For Piano and Band, No. 2, subtitled a neo-concerto, is in three movements. The first alternates Afro-Cuban rhythms with medium swing, the second is a lush ballad full of Strayhorn-like harmonies and the finale is a swinging up-tempo blues. Gulda plays several cadenzas linking sections together, demonstrating his pianistic facility.

    Like Gulda’s career as a pianist, in which he bounced back and forth from jazz to classical, the concerto seems to travel on both sides of the fence. There are outright jazz passages, be they swing, ballad or latin. And there are sections that reveal his debts to the Viennese masters, with hardly a reference to the jazz idiom. But unlike Rugolo and many other Kenton writers who combine elements of both, Gulda tends to keep his jazz and classical separate.

    The orchestra repeated the last movement of the Gulda concerto as an encore. And the concert came to an end. The opening concert was a success, if only for the fact that it happened at all. Newsweek reported the jubilant atmosphere, saying that the “tieless cheered and black-tied applauded.” As performers and revelers celebrated their success backstage, Kenton proclaimed that “the seed is planted. From it, great things will grow.”

    And the seed was planted. In the spring following the LA Neophonic’s debut Kenton conducted the North Texas State University Neophonic Orchestra. Later that same year saw the formation of the Collegiate Neophonic Orchestra. In 1972 former Kenton reedman Joel Kaye formed the New York Neophonic Orchestra and in 1994 he established the Neophonic Jazz Orchestra in Denver.

    There were other ensembles Neophonic in character, if not in name. In London, Bobby Lamb’s Trinity Big Band was heavily influenced by the Los Angeles original. Kim Richmond’s Concert Jazz Orchestra and Jack Elliott’s American Jazz Philharmonic both pursued new horizons in jazz composition for large ensembles. The seed was definitely planted.

    To celebrate the 40th anniversary of that first Neophonic concert, musicians and fans gathered in Los Angeles to pay tribute to Kenton’s vision. Over a dozen concerts were presented, recreating some of the original works while looking forward with new compositions in the Neophonic spirit. New Horizons continue.
  • “Stan Kenton’s Neophonc Music” by John A. Tynan

    Stan Kenton’s Neophonic Music

    by John A. Tynan
    Down Beat. 14 January 1965

    BILL RUSSO, for five years an arranger and sometime trombonist with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and to-day a serious composer, was quoted in a recent interview as follows:

    “I must say that I think Kenton’s mistakes were better than a lot of other people’s successes.” As an afterthought he added, “I think it’s very sad that his music has gone in and out of fashion so quickly.”

    To which Kenton, white-haired, dynamic, a bundle of nervous energy at 52, today might well retort, “Thanks for the compliment, but sing no sad songs for me.”

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    The imagination boggles at the very notion of any sad songs ever being sung for Stanley Newcomb Kenton. Mad songs, bad songs, glad songs, but never the dolorous variety. He has been pilloried by jazz critics—and praised by them too. He has, time and again, rallied a fan following of almost frightening dedication. He has even bad a shrine of sorts established in his honor; true, it is but a saloon near San Francisco, but a shrine nonetheless and a mecca to any Kenton fan who chances by.

    But Stan Kenton has never taken time even to consider listening to a sad song keened for him or his music. He’s always been too busy with that music or with any of the variety of orchestras he has led since 1941. Although 1949 became virtually a year of retirement for him, the extent to which he “retired” from music or musical thinking was dramatically debunked in January of the following year when he returned leading the most ambitious—and controversial—musical undertaking of his career, a 40-piece orchestra with full string section marching under the banner Innovations in Modem Music. As to his music going “in and out of fashion so quickly,” one is tempted to inquire, which music? There has been a variety of it.

    Kenton’s career has been and is, in fact, many careers (not counting his intensive study of psychiatry and psychoanalysis during that year of “retirement”). Depending on one’s point of view, a new career has just begun for Kenton or a new phase of the same old career has opened up.

    THE NEWS broke in late November, a bit prematurely, to be sure, but inevitably intriguing, as are all phases of Kentonia. A press conference was called at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel to announce the organization of “the first permanently established orchestra in the world devoted to contemporary music” and the International Academy of Contemporary Music. The announcement was a mite premature because the new orchestra was not scheduled to perform in public until Jan. 4, had not even been called to rehearsal yet, and had not even a complete personnel.

    Still, nobody minded much because the whole undertaking, especially the name bestowed on the new orchestra, held a sort of magic, even cabalistic spirit: The Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra. The music it would perform would be “neophonic.” It would give four concerts, it was announced: Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1 and 29, with Kenton conducting. The orchestra would be resident at the gleaming, multi-pillared, expansive new Music Center for the Performing Arts located in the heart of Los Angeles’ exploding Civic Center.

    While the Neophonic Orchestra would lack strings—the first season, anyway—there is no lack of old Kenton hands in the personnel for the opening concert: the reeds include Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz, and Chuck Gentry; the trumpet section has Conte and Pete Candoli, as well as Ray Triscari and Dalton Smith; the trombones reunited veterans Milt Bernhardt and Bob Fitzpatrick and also include Tommy Shepard and Jim Amlotte (who also shoulders the task of orchestra manager); Vince DeRosa leads a section of four French horns; Red Callender is the tubaist; Laurindo Almeida, featured 15 years earlier with the Innovations orchestra, is on guitar; John Worster is the bassist; mallet-man and all-around percussionist is Frank Carlson; and Shelly Manne is behind the standard drum outfit which should set many an old Kenton listener to reminiscing.

    Flown from Vienna for the opening concert will be pianist Friedrich Guida, who will be the featured soloist in a performance of his Concerto for Piano and Jazz Orchestra. Also on the program are “neophonic” compositions by Bill Holman, Marty Paich, Johnny Richards, Pete Rugolo, Lalo Schifrin, Hugo Montenegro, and Kenton himself.

    “Behind the orchestra,” wrote Kenton in a brochure issued in advance of the first concert, “is a body—the International Academy of Contemporary Music,” with himself as president, George Greif as vice president, and Sid Garris as secretary-treasurer. (Greif and Garris are Kenton’s business managers.) The academy had been established, he wrote, “1. To encourage the composition and performance of contemporary music, and to help develop musicians capable of playing it. 2. To serve as a clearing house for contemporary music, contemporary musicians, information concerning contemporary music, and to serve in the dissemination of such music to universities. other cities and countries, etc. 3. To sponsor and present the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra, to extend its influence and performance, and to encourage the establishment of similar neophonic orchestras.”

    In an interview, Kenton was asked how he came upon the word “neophonic.”

    “We felt,” he answered, “that the orchestra should have some kind of identifying name just as the [Los Angeles] Philharmonic does. We investigated. And we found out that the word “philharmonic” was a coined word too. So, in searching for a name for the neophonic orchestra, we came across the word “neo” and, of course, “phonic,” which explains the thing best of all.”

    Then he added, “I’d like to see all of modern music, contemporary music, known as as kind of neophonic music. You already have symphonic music. They are certainly two different fields of expression.”

    While a chord by any other name might sound as sweet (or sour, as the case may be), it is evident from the coined word, neophonic, and the exotic overtone within it, that it makes for a most practical device to help put across Kenton’s stated musical aim in tried and true show-business fashion. In an era when many assert that too much color has faded from the music-business canvas, neophonicism is rather reassuring.

    Kenton was most eager that the true nature of the orchestra and its function be made clear. Those composers who contribute works or from whom works are commissioned, he said, must be “dedicated in the direction that we are, musically speaking.” But, he added. “that doesn’t mean there cannot be differences of opinion. [Then] there are men who are writing modern classical music too, but I don’t think we would be their outlet because they had possibly best stay with their symphonic orchestras.”

    What of Third Stream and the ‘“new thing”? So far as the latter is concerned, Kenton affirmed it has a definite place under the neophonic sun. Also, to be specific, will experimenters Don Ellis and Ornette Coleman, he said.

    “We are trying,” Kenton stressed, “to limit the music to new music, and most all new music is experimental until it is proven.”

    Thus, in this one, giant leap, Stan Kenton has aimed at and landed squarely in the main stream of jazz’ avant garde, extending a helping hand to all who hopefully will not bite it and providing a prestigious platform far indeed from dank cellar and draughty loft for the farthest-out expressionist.

    So far as Third Stream music is concerned, Kenton conceded there “could be a connection” between the Neophonic Orchestra’s program and the compositional approaches of Gunther Schuller, John Lewis, et a!.

    “Possibly some of the music we play,” he ventured, “would be termed Third Stream.” Then he quickly added, “But I like to think that our music is not Third Stream music, that it has nothing to do with the classical world of music. 1his is entirely something based on the jazz tradition.”

    “My personal opinion,” he declared of attempts to fuse jazz and classical techniques, “is that I don’t think that you could ever blend the two. It’s true that in the creation of music the same theory in the writing, the conceiving, applies to both schools of music. But then they become separated. I’ve never really believed too much in trying to create a Third Stream music. I think that you either have to take one stand or another stand.”

    (One might wonder what Kenton had in mind 14 and 15 years ago when his Innovations orchestra performed concert works such as City of Glass by the late composer Bob Graettinger.)

    Kenton went on to speak of Schuller, Lewis, and others involved in Third Stream composition and to say he had a feeling that they were “a little inhibited.” This was because they were still relying and leaning too much upon the classical approach to music, he explained.

    “After all,” he said, “it is a very difficult thing to merchandise anything new in music, and I think the Third Stream movement has done a great deal toward new, fresh music. I think the guys in New York should be complimented on their efforts because, goodness knows, it’s so difficult to get people interested in new things…I think they’ve done a magnificent job, but I do think they lean too much toward the modern contemporary-classical approach. I think I would be happier to see them pull away completely and get into our own idiom of music—music in the American tradition. They are still using a lot of the European techniques and the European approach which, of course, is the classical school.

    “At the clinics, when we were working with young musicians, we were trying to describe what is the American approach to music. Finally I conceived the idea of explaining it in terms of that show Don Ameche has on television where he tours around various sections of Europe presenting circuses and different extravaganzas. I’d say, ‘Do you hear the music being played in the background?’ In an American circus the music sounds entirely different; so I’d say, ‘That is the American approach to music.’

    “You turn on your TV set and you listen to any big television orchestra or any big theater orchestra, and you can hear the American approach to music. They are two entirely different things. And I’d look at the faces of these young musicians and somehow they’d seem to be a little more enlightened. They’d say, ‘Yes, I see what you mean.’

    “There is an American way of playing music. There’s no doubt about it. You can tell. And now all over the world. Other people have picked up the American approach to music. As to trying to clear up this confusion as to what is the new music, I sometimes feel that you almost have to hear the difference in the performance. It’s a way of performing music. 1 here’s a whole different dimension to American music than there is to European music.”

    A LITTLE MORE THAN 20 years ago it was Eager Beaver, Artistry in Rhythm, and a startlingly new approach to swing-dance music; 15 years ago it was Innovations and a radically different frame for jazz in concert; today it is neophonic, and the accent is still on the new and the experimental. How does Kenton feel today about his place in American serious music—does he think he would ever be in a position to communicate directly to the mass market? He replied firmly in the negative and, it seemed, with inner regret.

    “It’s impossible,” he said. “Any form of art has never been mass-accepted; it’s always been supported by a minority group of people, created by a minority…The masses are one thing and, of course, a minority is another thing. No, I don’t think anybody in jazz music will ever get mass-acceptance.’’

    Conversely, he conceded that some of his popular-oriented recordings had “pretty good” appeal to a broader market although, he noted, to this day he has never had a million-seller. But even in recording more popular-oriented material there was always the eye cocked to the music’s serious implications.

    “Oftentimes,” Kenton recalled, “in taking a piece of music and directing it toward popular approval we have managed to dip into the masses for more fans and maybe attract attention to some of the other things we were doing in a more serious way.”

    “I think it’s very necessary,’’ he emphasized, “that you communicate with the public because you can have the greatest music in the world, but if there’s no one sitting out there to listen to it, you’re lost.”

    Comparison between the Kenton Innovations period and the current neophonic era is, perhaps, inevitable. Kenton conceded as much.

    “During the Innovations period there was a certain thing that I was trying to build, to gain acceptance of. Some of the music was excellent, some of it wasn’t of such a high caliber, but we were very sincere about what we were trying to do. I think the time is better now for something of that nature than it was at that time.’’

    He might have added that certainly the economic circumstances of the Neophonic Orchestra are vastly more favorable than they were for the Innovations behemoth. The of transporting such a large complement from city to city today, not to mention meeting the payroll every week, was prodigious even then; to attempt it today would be madness.

    Kenton conceded that he also is faced with the problem of explaining to people what neophonic music actually is and described his attempts to do so as sometimes “strange.’’

    “People have so many fixed impressions in their minds,” he said with a shrug. “You find a lot of people who ask, ‘Do you think the bands are ever going to come back?’ and ‘Will the big bands return?’ What they’re actually thinking about is the music they heard during the ‘40s and the early part of the ‘50s, and if they will be hearing that music again. I don’t think that’s possible because I think that the music has developed, and now all of the things that have evolved out of the name-band era in the field of jazz are going to be put together into this neophonic orchestra.”

    A basic reason for Kenton’s conviction that “the time is better now,” he said, is that in the last four or five years he has taken new stock of the taste of the American people.
    “There was a period,” he confessed, “when I felt so disgusted with all of us in America because I thought we were all dead at the switch. It was impossible to communicate with anybody.

    “But with us Americans…so much happens here in this country…there are so many different things going on…Music is such a free thing here that if something is great, it will attract attention and gain acceptance.

    “You’ve got to remember, though, that the American car is just beaten to death with all kinds of things all the time. It isn’t that the American isn’t any less conscious of artistic things or culture, because he certainly is. It’s just that a thing has to be something really worthwhile before it’s going to gain acceptance.”

    KENTON SAID HE WANTED to clear up something not directly related to the Neophonic Orchestra. “Some months back,” he began, “I was quoted [DB, April 23, 1964, and other media] as saying that jazz is finished. It made quite a lot of noise. It was another thing that was not completely explained. I think this: jazz as we knew it up until this time has had its say. I think that what we are taking from the jazz world now and presenting in orchestras like the Neophonic Orchestra—and we hope there are others like it around the world—is what we have learned from the field of jazz. That is the foundation for this music. And there’s no way around it. It is not the classical approach to music. It is the jazz approach to music. But again it’s so hard for people to understand. They think that jazz is a static thing. Jazz has been in a state of growth and change, but there are certain baste elements of the music that have been maintained all along.”

    He paused before taking up point No. 2:

    “I also said that I think that some of the avant garde in jazz today have had such a struggle trying to find identity that they’ve almost gone off the deep end trying to create things that will give them identity. It’s like some of the far-out classical composers. They are doing some of the most ridiculous things just because they are calling attention to themselves. But if you maintain certain basic elements of jazz—which is the way the music is played—there’s no reason now why it’s not time now to take these things that came from the field of jazz and put them into order and let them be the foundation for the new music which is the serious music of America.”

    Kenton was then asked how he would comment on the “swing” concept, i.e., basically a 4/4, steady, unvarying beat with the indefinable element inherent that has come to be termed “swing” and has come to be associated inextricably with what is described as jazz. The bandleader was asked how in his view this “swing” concept related—if at all to neophonic music.

    “I think it relates very well,” he answered. “As a matter of fact, I have been saying for the last couple of years that in talking to some of the composers recently I feel that they, too, have the same hunger to get away from, not to say the ‘swinging thing,’ but to get away from the use of the rhythm section as we’ve been using it all along. I think it’s a terribly hackneyed sound to hear four guys in a rhythm section clang-de-clang, going on and on and on.

    “l like to think that the rhythm section in the Neophonic Orchestra will function a great deal differently than rhythm sections have thus far. Musicians play well today; they don’t have to use the rhythm section as a policing measure anymore. They know what they’re doing. They’re able to keep time by themselves. And they’re able to swing without this forced feeling of time. I think if a rhythm section is used much more sparingly, it will be much more of a thrill to listen to; it will spark a band much more.

    “It’s time that we get away from even that hackneyed part of the field of jazz music. I have always maintained that a thing doesn’t necessarily have to swing all the time to be jazz, because there’s a certain way of playing music that came from the jazz conception that can be applied to rubato movement in music or any sort of time, any conception of time. It doesn’t have to be always a swing thing.”

    Swinging, then, is not, in his book, a basic, necessary-at-all-times ingredient in jazz?

    “No,” he replied, “it never has been.”

    STAN KENTON is now at last out of the traveling, one-nighter, big-band world in which he grew up since joining the Everett Hoagland Band in 1934. He said that his basic decision to forsake that life and that aspect of his career was prompted by “personal obligations” to remain in the Los Angeles area. (He lives with his two children in Beverly Hills.) Kenton said that as a result of his experience on the road in recent years he did not see much of a market for dance music anywhere.

    “I think the people are more interested in concerts and music for listening than they are for dancing,” he said. “And of course young people have their own music for dancing. I wouldn’t want to risk going out on the road today with what might be called Stan Kenton and a dance band and hope I’d make a success of it, because I don’t think that people are that much interested in dance music anymore.”

    It will probably be some time, Kenton said, before the Neophonic Orchestra makes recordings for commercial release; nor did he know, he said, for what company it would eventually record.

    “I’ll continue to record under my own name for Capitol,” he emphasized, “because I feel it’s important I maintain my own identity and not become completely submerged in the Neophonic Orchestra.” Stan being Kenton, one understood that.


    Tynan, John A. “Stan Kenton’s Neophonic Music.” Down Beat. 14 January 1965: 12-5.

The Recordings