Performance Reviews

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Carter, D. "Stan Kenton: Roseland." Billboard. 14 February 1942: 22.
Stan Kenton
(Reviewed at Roseland, Ballroom New York)

AFTER sopping up all the plaudits that West Coast swing seers and fans could possibly hand out, Kenton brought his highly touted gang East and put it on display before the case-hardened, conscientious dancers who patronize Roseland Ballroom.

If nothing else, Kenton proved to be the most elaborately flamboyant front man to hit a New York bandstand in many years. Said to be an accomplished pianist, he appears never to go near the keyboard, but remains out in front, gesticulating like a college cheerleader, clapping his hands, grinning a not unattractive grin, and, at intervals, uttering various jitterbug sounds. it is easy to understand the appeal Kenton held for the youngsters in California, since a personality guy is a rare thing in front of a swing band these days. Whether the serious dancers at Roseland will appreciate his gyrations is another question. And a more serious question is whether these dancers, who are not jitterbugs, will be able to dance to Kenton’s deafening four beat. The band’s rhythm section, minus a piano, is the loudest three-man rhythm section in the game. Drummer Marvin George and Howard Rumsey, on electrically amplified bass, really beat it out—great for the kids, but hard on the oldsters.

Library seems devoid of the latest pops, but New York’s battalion of pluggers will probably take care of that deficiency. Meanwhile. band gives forth innumerable stomp numbers and a good share of ballads, all treated in compromising TNT fashion.

Jack Ordean takes alto sox solos and is something close to terrific. Also very good is Frankie Beach on first trumpet, and Chico Alvarez, hot trumpet. Red Dorris is faIr hot tenor man and sings the ballad vocals, but not very well. Diction ls harsh and voice unmusical.

Helen Huntley, an attractive kid. takes care or the jive vocals, making various cute faces which fail to compensate for her lack of voice. Musically, the band is good. All members (five reed, six brass, three rhythm) know their jazz and love to play it. But they make dancing a problem. Undoubtedly many changes will be made in the library, in the vocal department and in the arranging staff. When these are made, Kenton may be as much of a riot here as he was in California. He certainly has the personality.


Grennard, Elliott. "Vaudeville Reviews. Strand, New York." Billboard. 24 October 1942: 14.
Strand, New York
(Reviewed Friday Evening, October 16)

New film,
You Can’t Escape Forever, is a lightweight and biz for next two weeks will depend on drawing power of the Three Stooges; Jack Carson, of the cinema, and Stan Kenton’s ork. Once in, customers will be vastly entertained, thanks to help from the Martin Brothers.

Three Stooges are the big noise with their own backdrop and particular brand of hell raising. Smart maniacs’ bag of tricks resembles the leavings on a barroom floor, but audience greeted the low jokes with bellows of laughter. Only the boys’ standard eye-gouging and headconking business fell flat and one nosepicking routine also appeared to offend. Otherwise a riot all the way.

Jack Carson does a pleasant, ingratiating turn that is a complete switch front his smart-aleck assignments in the celluloids. Wins the crowd quickly, turning and posturing so they can “look him over.” His kidding autobiographical stories about Rita Hayworth and Ann Sheridan. were enjoyed, and his modest singing of Melancholy Baby for is closer was nicely received.

Stan Kenton, 6 feet 4 inches of arm-waving, knee- bending swing-happiness, creates a fine impression in front of his band or seated at. the piano for simple but vigorous 88-ing. Band okay behind the acts, but less satisfactory on its own. Using no solos, aside from Kenton’s, all sections play together in volume that shades from loud to deafening. Best band number was
St. James Infirmary, with maestro at the mike and boys heckling from their seats. Vocalist Dolly Mitchell is a beautiful gal who could get along with even lass voice than she has. Did three numbers for fair returns.

Martin Brothers really clicked show caught. Two big guys handling puppets at their feet, backgrounded by baggy black garb of the string pullers, had the auditors pounding their palms in delight. Hot stepping of marionettes was wonderful and a wooden clown popping out of a suitcase and trying to clamber over the side was all but human. Martins earned their half-dozen bows.

Doreen Russell, first on with two far-from- expert tap numbers, was the only weak spot. House well filled for early evening show and should get even better on word-of-mouth boosting.

Elliott Grennard.

Honigberg, Sam. "On the Stand. Sherman Hotel, Chicago." Billboard. 19 December 1942: 23.
Stan Kenton
(Reviewed at Sherman Hotel, Panther Room, Chicago)

SWING music in its full bloom is blaringly mirrored in this comparatively young and large (16-piece) outfit. Kenton, youthful, aggressive salesman, is a suitable front for this powerhouse, which dishes out torrid rhythms with razor-edge precision. Despite recent replacements (the draft, of course), the layman will find no fault with this music, thanks to the swell arrangements which are spiced with variety and color.

Until recently Kenton, a pianist by trade, doubled as chief arranger. But the double duties of arranging and leading proved too much, so Charles Shirley (formerly with Al Donahue) took over. He handles the ballads and does a neat job with them.

Instrumentation has seven brass, five sax and four rhythm. Red Dorris (sax) doubles on vocals and possesses a good enough baritone for the popular ballads. Dolly Mitchell, luscious brunet warbler, is the highlight in the vocal corps, swinging out with physical and vocal rhythm. Formerly with Paul Whiteman, her talents find a more fitting niche with this group.

While Kenton takes little time out to play the ivories, he proves a valuable asset front center, selling his family’s wares. He plays for the kids at all times, a factor that goes a long way with the youthful band followers. Also pitches in with a loud “blues” voice that is in keeping with the style of the band.

— Honigberg.

Honigberg, Sam. "Vaudeville Reviews. Oriental, Chicago." Billboard. 30 January 1943: 16.
Oriental, Chicago
(Reviewed Friday Afternoon, January 22)

Stan Kenton and orchestra are deserving candidates for a position in our future name-hand list, as they amply prove here this week. Kenton has an original style, presenting modern music in a colorful fashion. His arrangements are styled artistically, yet are commercial enough for an average audience. And, too, he makes a good, intelligent and showmanly emsee. The brand of music is strictly on the swing side, but solid all the way. Plenty of capable musicians in the brass (seven), reed (five) and rhythm (three) departments.

Following a Kalamazoo opening, Red Dorris (sax) displays a good enough voice for the contrasting Moonlight Becomes You and Slender, Tender and Tall. The reed section, on its own, delivers Manhattan Serenade in an impressively mod-ern style. Doris Mitchell, sexy brunet with a good blues voice, brightens her inning with Get Me Some Money, Too, and Salt Lake City Blues.

Kenton is the highlight as the Harlem warbler in St. James Infirmary, with comical interruptions from the band, and as the piano lead in his own concerto which features each section in the band. Sock musical number.

The Pled Pipers, three lads and Joe [sic] Stafford, recently of Tommy Dorsey’s crew, is the latest harmony act to branch out on its own. They top the three outside acts on this bill. This is their first theater date as an act and as yet lack suitable showmanship to stand out better than just a band specialty. Their singing is smooth and even, but the numbers lack versatility. They are best on ballads, such as Never Smile Again, their opening trade-mark I Had the Craziest Dream and There Are Such Things. Their Can’t Get Stuff in Your Cuff, and the closer, Three Yankee Doodles (latter backed with military newsreel shots) lack presentation oomph.

Doris DuPont, cute tapper, is on early with a couple of swingy routines, one danced without the benefit of musical accompaniment. Radcliffe and Jenkins (once known as Radcliffe and Rogers) are a mixed colored team dressed as a maid and porter. Do a comedy and musical act, but use too much of the old act’s material to do the turn any good. The man handles most of the lines, sings with a high voice and blows a hot trumpet. The woman is at piano and doubles as straight. The talk is ancient.

On screen, One Dangerous Night. Biz average end of second show opening day.

—Sam Honigberg.

Abbott, Sam. "Vaudeville Reviews. Orpheum, Los Angeles." Billboard. 20 January 1945: 25.
Orpheum, Los Angeles
(Reviewed Tuesday Evening, January 9)

Orpheum has a nicely balanced offering that runs smoothly from start to finish. The haymakers are Anita O'Day and the Pied Pipers with Doodles Weaver's comedy also getting in a solid punch. Stan Kenton and his orchestra headline and impress most satisfactorily. Maestro divides his time between fronting flamboyantly and taking turns at the piano to pull the outfit more solidly together than when he is directing. Ork (19) makes good appearance on full stage. Show is band patterned with all-outers to open with I Know That You Know and Eager Beaver. Band's male vocalist, Gene Howard, draws a good hand for his work on Together and I Dream of You. Featured sidemen who draw applause are John Carroll, who louses up a trumpet solo of Stardust for lusty laughs, and Carl George, whose hot horn on Poor Butterfly puts the hep cats out of this world. Next to closing, Kenton takes over the piano for part on Artistry and Rhythm, letting the different sections ride well. St. James Infirmary spots Kenton on vocals with sidemen heckling to please the youngsters who have jammed the front seats. Arrangements are plenty satisfactory and Kenton doesn't pull the reins when the boys want to get going. While it is strictly jive, it gives followers in this division a hefty dish.

Miss O'Day, Kenton's thrush, takes over midway for a threesome. Wearing a black gown that contrasts with her red hair, Miss O'Day throws away Tabby the Cat but comes back quickly for more torchy handling of Wish You Were Waiting for Me. Knowing her audience and having them completely in her hand by this time, she pops with Her Tears Flowed Like Wine with the groovy tempo knocking the kids off their hands for a rafter shaker.

Augmenting acts include Carol Adams, pert terpster, who goes over well with her rhythm taps. Working in short wardrobe, gal cleats clean. Weaver, whose comedy is strictly night clubish, finds a responsive audience. Sows plenty of corn but plants it as such. Wind-up is radio announcer at speedway that gets laughs but is not as strong as his mixed word rendition of The Man on the Flying Trapeze. Switching rou tines would be a smart move. Notwithstanding this, Weaver, who works in street clothes, lets nothing stand in the way of a laugh. He even does part of his assignment with one shoe off. Weaver knows his customers.

The Pied Pipers, making their first theater date in the West, sock over vocal harmonies for big hands. Going strong on animation, Pipers warm up with There Goes That Song Again and cuts in Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive. June Hutton, only fem member of the group, take leads well. The Trolley Song is the killer-diller and Kenton's piano work with his rhythm section helps. Miss Hutton paces Trolley and the all-round job displays good harmony and top showmanship.

Ork closes with a fast one. Biz good when caught. Picture is Destiny.

Sam Abbott.

Sippel, John. "Vaudeville Reviews. Oriental, Chicago." Billboard. 24 March 1945: 27.
Oriental, Chicago
(Reviewed Friday Afternoon, March 16)

Those vaude ops who reported to a Billboard survey a few weeks back that the band show formula was falling off should try Stan Kenton’s band, current here. This band offers a well-balanced musical program, stocked with recorded tunes that bring a heavy hand the minute they’re announced-new arrangements that please both the sweet and the swing fan and a couple of specialties which emphasize showmanship and sight appeal.

Band opens with its popular Capitol recording of Eager Beaver, after which Jean LaSalle, ex-Clyde Lucas chirp, does an adequate job of filling the slot left open when Anita O’Day parted company with the Kenton crew recently. Did Beginning To See the Light and two other jump numbers. Gal has a bad habit of pecking during her singing with the result that the volume of her voice fluctuates over the p.a. system.

Gene Howard, male vocalist, is just what the gals like to swoon for. After doing three numbers, the handsome crooner had to beg off because of the length of the show.

Top band bits for vaude are John Carroll’s clinker-filled rendition of Stardust and the leader’s vocal, with side remarks from the bandsmen, on St. James Infirmary. There’s plenty of comedy in both numbers and this type of entertainment assures a return trip to the theater whenever the band is in town.

Dinning Sisters, local radio trio, are tops on the vocal side, but could stand a little more emphasis on stage presence. Gals do a good job of selling on Pig-Foot Pete, their encore number, but the first part of their turn needs more action to keep the payees interested.

Remainder of the bill Is the Three Samuels. who offer a well-balanced bit of precision tap and timely military comedy, and Howell and Bowser, comedy team, who are the most subtle Negro comedy team seen here In a long time. These boys look like a good bet for a series of nitery engagements.

John Sippel.

Ross, Paul. "Vaudeville Reviews. Paramount, New York." Billboard. 14 July 1945: 29.
Paramount, New York
(Reviewed Wednesday Evening. July 4)

Paramount has done itself a job with the new bill, one of the most entertaining now available on Stem.

Stan Kenton ork (17) opens with the maestro at the piano on a jumper. Band sounds pretty rough on this number and also later on for ork canary’s song. Otherwise, tho, it shapes up fine as a well-drilled outfit with plenty of stage show values. June Christie, cute little band thrush, follows with This or That on which she does a first-rate selling job and draws solid mitt. Kid’s personality and voice, which has the quality of a muted trombone, merits a second stance in the show.

Mack and Desmond, playing return date here, are a couple of live-wire hoofers and goofers. Terp work is fast, modern and top-drawer. Boy’s piano spoofery also is swell. Altogether, a sock act.

Band follows with a kind of fugue in swing -tempo which permits Kenton a slow piano cadenza. Number is interesting musically and more should be done with it. Kenton doesn’t quite finish off his chore on it. Can be turned into a substantial item. Good reception.

Leader follows with a gag St. James Infirmary which pulls many gut -giggles. Sidemen kibitz at every line and outfit has been well rehearsed in this biz so that effect is both funny and stimulating. Juicy palming also Is swell.

Gene Howard, ork’s male vocalist. comes on for a couple of ballads. Kid does a good job of crooning in his big voice and pleases with his personality. Stage manner needs pointing-up. He’s a little awkward on the bows and entrances-exits.

Wesson Brothers, also playing return date, are on next. Some of their material Is new, including one bit which Abbott and Costello, up the street, also are using. Act draws no yocks but does get a good, steady crop of laughs, and good mining. Pair still suffer from chronic tendency of not knowing when to finish a bit or an encore. Also some of their material still Is offensive. For example, doing the standard big-words mumbo-jumbo routine, labeled as their “impression” of what went on at the United Nations Conference in San Francisco, is not only snide goosing of what most of the audience take very seriously (and, hence, is bad showmanship), but it also conveys a faint suggestion of political purpose, as do several other touches in their material. This kind of thing is perfectly proper if the act is avowedly devoted to one “cause” or another, but in what purports to be a routine of pure comic entertainment it is bad taste, if not worse.

Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five closes. Jordan has never been better. His electric showmanship draws top reactions from the moment he comes on until he winds up with his torrid Caldonia. Last number, where Jordan wisely sings only two short choruses of the over-used tune, ends with Manhattan Debs (2) joining him for a hoofing finish. It is a great end to an excellent show. Business big. Picture is You Came Along.

Paul Ross.

Secon, Paul. "On the Stand. Cafe Rouge, Hotel Pennsylvania." Billboard. 29 September 1945: 22.
Stan Kenton
(Reviewed at Cafe Rouge, Hotel Pennsylvania, New York)
(Personal manager: Carlos Gastel)
(Booking agency: General Amusement Corporation)

Initial appearance of this band at a prime location spot in Manhattan marks the band as an outfit not to be taken lightly. In evidence all night long is the band of a guy who knows what he wants, and he gets it thruout. In this case it’s Kenton, at the piano, who guides the goings on, and he’s definitely striving for a band of distinction probably in the precision forte. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind after hearing the band for a while that everything is black and white and comes off like snapping of the fingers.

This reviewer heard the band at two different sessions, late on opening night and at dinner later on, and the above goes for both hearings. There’s the consistent style thruout. On ballads Kenton’s piano comes in after the warbling of Gene Howard, who does a consistently fine job, to accent the Kenton style. Kenton is a musician’s musician, but knows how to bend a commercial note when he wants to.

Where he’s off on a tangent, so far as a commercial enterprise is concerned, is in dishing up a majority of originals late in the evening. Putting out originals consistently, no matter how new, musically terrifying or standout-ish, leaves a question mark with the guy who plunks down his buck at the b.o., where’s the tune of the day? When he’s dancing with his girl he wants soft lights and sweet music and a tune he knows. Kenton overlooks that. On the other hand, for those guys who are in the know, and there are probably plenty around, he’s a musically hep band and gives a good accounting of himself in every department.

If Kenton were to lean a little more on the commercial tune side—(said that he had no time to rehearse them since he was on the road so much lately), plus his sock original material—guy has every indication of hitting. On the subject of a band playing too loud, that’s an age-old question. For those who want their music hot and jivey it’s okay. For those who want to talk and just dance, it’s another story. Depends on whom you want to please. Gal singer, June Christy, is a peppy youngster who handles herself and lyrics well. Kid knows how to toss her tonsils around. Paul Secon.
"Vaudeville Reviews. Orpheum, Los Angeles." Billboard. 26 January 1946: 37.
Orpheum, Los Angeles
(Reviewed Tuesday Afternoon, Jan. 15)

Stan Kenton’s return date here again shows him to be a good show band, doing a job on the stage as well as in ballrooms. Kenton is at the piano more during a stageshow than when playing dances. Whether at the piano or in front, he’s a showman in his flamboyant way. Side- men lend strong support and the infectious beat is carried thruout the audience. Full band does four numbers, including
Artistry Jumps, the opener. On the second, More Than You Know, the maestro’s piano work is much in evidence. With stage lights down, the number is sold well. St. James Infirmary, with the sidemen heckling Kenton, goes well. But here the band falters in that the leader intros the various bandsmen before going into Sergeants’ Mess, a fast one. Intros should be nearer the opening, and St. James should be the closer, as it is so well identified with this outfit.

Kenton’s sidemen shine thruout the show, with Eddie Safranski on bass being featured in the rhythm opening of
More Than You Know. Ray Wetzel, trumpet, hits the high spots instrumentally, and his vocal handling of Can’t Get Enough of You and a take-off on Trees are well spotted. Vido Musso’s tenor sexing of Body and Soul brings down the house.

Band carries two vocalists, June Christy and Gene Howard. Canary does the rhythm numbers and is the better deal of the two. Her third try,
Tampico, with sidemen coming in vocally, nets her a show-stop. Howard’s best was Never Too Late To Pray, with Come to Baby, Do a close second.

Gerri Gale draws hefty mitting for her combination rhythmic and ballet terping. Streamlined, the gal works in short wardrobe and gets off with an eye-catching deal from the start. Her combination boogie-woogie and ballet step- ping for the wind-up is especially effective.

Dave Barry gets the yocks for his clever monolog, going into an impersonation bit for the finale. Take-offs on Archie (
Duffy’s Tavern), Ned Sparks and Winston Churchill are okay.

Song of the Prairie. Biz good.
"On the Stand. Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook." Billboard. 9 March 1946: 36.
Stan Kenton
(Reviewed at Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook, Cedar Grove, N. J.)
(Personal manager: Carlos Gastel)

TRUMPETS: Ray Wetzel, Buddy Childers, Chico Alvarez, Johnny Anderson and Ken Hanna. TROMBONES: Ray Klein, Gene Rowland
[sic], Kai Winding, Milton Kabak and Bart Varsalona. SAXES: Vido Musso, tenor; Al Anthony, first; “Boots” Mussulli, alto; Bob Cooper, tenor, and Bob Gioga, baritone. RHYTHM: Eddie Safranski, bass; Charley Perry, drums; Bob Ahern, guitar; Stan Kenton, piano. VOCALIST: June Christy and Gene Howard. ARRANGERS: Pege [sic] Rugulo, Gene Howard, Gene Rowland and Stan Kenton.

Kenton now has not only the most expensive band of his career, but one of the heaviest payroll nuts around, the tab somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,500 weekly. For sidemen like Musso on tenor and Safranski on bass you’ve got to shell out the moola. On the other hand, for the type of music Kenton tries so hard to dispense, you need top-caliber instrumentalists.

Bands product is probably the boldest, most daring turned out in the pop oak field today. It creates overall tone patterns which often border on the classical, more often concert-styled jazz, and manages to speak a pop music mass-appeal language which young terpers and listeners understand. Drive of the band, stemming from clean, sharp brass and reed blowing (and ably abetted by the rhythm section) is rafter-shaking. Reins are pulled often enough on ballad and sweet items in the arid Kenton book to supply a neat change of pace. Outstanding example of the latter is ork’s arrangement (a Pete Rugulo scoring) of
Bell’s of St. Mary’s in which the brass builds a bell effect as sweet and as full as anything heard in music circles.

Kenton, himself, sparks the band from the piano, where his kept fingerings supplies a hefty rhythm assist, and from out front where his musicianship is even more apparent in the manner in which he calls forth every note from every man on the split second. In addition to making plenty of music as an ensemble, the ork delivers a varied entertainment bill thru its batter of featured sidemen (Musso, Wetzel, Safranski, Windig
[sic], et al., take many a solo ride) and vocalists. including veterans June Christy and Gene Howard, plus an occasional novelty number by trumpeter ray Wetzel. Wetzel, however, did the one item which in the opinion of many listeners was in questionable taste. he chatted the thing called I Thank the Lord I’m Not a Tree, a dog-tree parody on the Joyce Kilmer poem. Tune is much too beautiful, melodically, to be gag-parodied, and semi-scared lyrics hardly lend themselves to this type of clowning/ Kenton has enough good material in his book to make such stuff unnecessary.

Look mag sending the Kenton ork off as “the band of 1946,” with a couple of good disks out on Capitol and with one-nighter promoters doing well with the band, it looks like the artistry maestro is in for his biggest year.
"Vaudeville Reviews. Million Dollar, Los Angeles." Billboard. 17 August 1946: 22.
Million Dollar, Los Angeles
(Tuesday, August 6)

It’s a sock band show this week, with top honors going to Stan Kenton’s crew. Leader offers best all around stage presentation seen at the Million Dollar in recent weeks. Dishing out plenty of smart musicianship and fronting ork in good style.

Show opens with Kenton’s Artistry Jumps, featuring the fronter on the 88, followed by a sedate version of World on a String. Trumpeter Ray Wetzel sells vocals of Sepulveda well and follows with a gag version of Trees. Instrumental showcase features Vido Musso on tenor sax, doing Come Back to Sorrento. (Musso leaves this week to front his, own ork.)

Between-the-band heckling in comical version of St. James Infirmary is strictly on the corny side, but seat-sitters eat it up. Outfit closes with production number, Concerto To End All Concertos, a solid instrumental piece for curtain spot.

Vocalists Gene Howard and June Christy are spotted thru well-paced show. Miss Christy scores heavily with Come Rain or Shine, Rika Jaka Jack and Blues, Stay Away From Me. Gal is gorgeously costumed, very easy on the orbs, and has plenty in the vocal department. Howard’s They Say It’s Wonderful and Until the Real Thing Comes Along go over well.

Comic Dave Barry proves a solid hit with a stock of original material and quick delivery. Gagster’s burlesque of film and radio great had payees roaring for more. Parodies on pop tunes and satire of various types of politicians brought him back for two encores. Finally had to beg off.

Tapster Mildred Law rounds out the solid bill with a neat display. Gal is plenty good with her tootsies, but needs just a bit more salesmanship to hit the peak.

Pic, Bowery Bombshell. Biz very good.
"Vaudeville Reviews. Paramount, New York." Billboard. 26 October 1946: 49.
Paramount, New York
(Wednesday, October 10, 1945)

New card is loaded with stuff aimed at the hep cats and jive kids. Stan Kenton, with stork-like antics, and his ork put it on hot and heavy with arrangements and rides which will probably go big with the hot jazz buyers. But on night caught house didn’t have many hepsters, hence the blasting and all the weird musical patterns didn’t add up to good theater fare.

The only time Kenton did get enthusiastic responses was when he did his hoke vocal of
St. James Infirmary, which the boys in the band deliberately loused up. Result was really hilarious and crowd gave with yocks and mitts.

Band canary, June Christy, was way over the customers’ heads. Her be-bop lyrics and 52d Street style drew titters more than it pulled hands. Her low-down
He’s Funny That Way probably kills the hot jazz trade. Here it was just gibberish, with pew-sitters looking at each other wondering what it was all about.

Dean Murphy came on with a few gags, shooting them across like a machine gun, then went into his take-offs. Among them were Charlie McCarthy, which must be something for a name to do—imitate a dummy. Finished with Wendell Willkie, Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR, the last named in excellent taste and earning him a great exit mitt.

King Cole Trio came on with a nice hand and went to work on
Route 66, followed by Lorraine, Best Man and a medley of oldies. Boys did their usual good musical job but their phrasing didn’t seem to get across. Show finished with Kenton’s ork joining the Cole group for the descent with everybody getting hot.

The Lane Brothers’ standard routines got a nice welcome. Their knockabout acros, taps and rope jumping paid off with hearty applause.

Blue Skies.
Zhito, Lee. "On the Stand. Avodon Ballroom." Billboard. 8 March 1947: 33.
Stan Kenton
(Reviewed at Avodon Ballroom, downtown Los Angeles, February 23. Personal management, Carlos Gastel. Road manager, Bob Gioga. Booked thru General Artists Corporation.)

TRUMPETS: Buddy Childers, Johnny Anderson, Ken Hanna, Chico Alverez, Ray Wetzel.

TROMBONES: Kai Wilding, Skip Layton, Milt Bernhart and Harry Forbes. BASS: Bart Varsalona.

SAXES: Vido Musso, Bob Cooper, Boots Mussulli, Eddie Meyers; baritone, Bob Gioga.

RHYTHM: Stan Kenton, leader and piano; Eddie Safranski, bass; Shelly Manne, drums; Bob Ahern, guitar.

VOCALISTS: June Christy, Ray Wetzel (doubling from trumpet) and vocal group; the Pastels (Margaret Dale, Howard Hoffman, Don McLeod, Jerry Parker, Jerry Duane).

ARRANGER: Pete Rugolo.

Whenever Stan Kenton pulls into his L.A. home grounds, it spells big doings for the town’s jive. This time is no exception.

Dishing out a weekly $6,500 to hold the Kenton crew on its stand, management may not be thoroly satisfied with the size of customer throngs and argue that swing is dead and sweet is king. Yet those close to the aggregation’s purse strings will point out that Kenton is giving the Avadon a taste of solid biz and that the band’s pulling power would be considerably stronger were it not for the fact that the terpsery is in downtown Los Angeles, where it must draw from either the lower-income bracket groups in the immediate area or pull in the terp-minded kids from Hollywood and West L.A. on one side and the Pasadena and eastern suburbs on the other. Not only does the band’s pulling power have to overcome the distance factor but also it must outweigh the dislike of some parents to allow their kids to go into the downtown area after nightfall.

One thing, tho, is certain. Taking the beats from the Kenton baton is one of the highest-salaried aggregations in the land today. Sharing the top band pay roll bracket with Tex Beneke and Vaughn Monroe, Kenton has a tough nut to meet for his 25-man crew. Fully aware of current conditions which have wrecked some orks on the reefs of bad biz, forcing some to disband and others to trim down, Kenton still feels that a band that hopes to weather the present biz storms and still emerge on top can not afford to dilute its product and offer customers a cheaper substitute indicative of this trend of thought. While other bands are cutting down, Kenton recently added to his already expensive herd a five-man vocal corps, the Pastels.

As to who is right, time will tell, but from the way things now stack up, there’s no doubt the Steinway-squatting maestro is on the right track. All the high-powered aggregations have gone under, and Kenton remains alone as the only un-sweetened crew making money. Reason is that he gives the customer his buck’s worth in top-drawer arrangements, carrying some of the finest instrumentalists in the terp field to day. With June Christy heading the vocal department, plus the newly acquired Pastels, band emerges strong on all counts. Musically, the Kenton product has now achieved a polish and level of excellence it never before realized. With the return of ace saxist Vido Musso (following his short-lived career as a batoner), with Chico Alverez and Buddy Childers pacing the trumpet wing and Kai Wilding and Skip Layton holding down the top tram slots, Kenton can successfully achieve his intriguing interplay of brass and reeds upon which is built his refreshing tonal blends. Keystone of this powerhouse aggregation is its potent rhythm section, boasting the maestro’s key boarding, Safranski’s terrific bass work and Shelley Manne’s hide handling. There’s always a clean-cut, well-defined beat to hold up the rhythm, plus biting brass and full bodied reeds.

Kenton’s library leans strongly on originals but sufficient pops and an occasional oldie tend to balance the tune scales. Without endangering his present high quality fare, maestro may find it wise to inject more pops. An occasional novelty adds sparkle to the session, wish kids going wild over the hit-headed, Calypso-flavored
Feets Too Big for De Bed and the earlier Capitol-waxed Rika Jika Jack. Miss Christy’s piping is tops on these rhythmic items and she proves her vocal versatility by taking in equal stride the slower September Song and oldie September in the Rain. Pastels make a convincing showing, blending easily and matching their voicings to band’s style. Lee Zhito.
Fischler, Alan. "Night Club Reviews. Billingsley's Bocage, Hollywood." Billboard. 24 May 1947: 41. [June Christy sans Kenton]
Billingsley's Bocage, Hollywood
(Tuesday, May 13)

Capacity, 150. Price policy, $1 cover. Shows at 9:30 and midnight. Owner-manager, Glenn Billingsley. Publicity, Maury Poladare. Estimated budget this show, $1,200. Estimated budget last show, $1,500.

When Stan Kenton's heavy road sked became too much for orkster to bear and band was temporarily dissolved, personal manager, Carlos Gastel, did some fast scouting on behalf of Kenton thrush June Christy and came up with Bocage as a showcase for singer's solo flight. In the spotlight (and without the Kenton crew to back her up) gal stands out as a different and interesting vocal stylist, reflecting much of the modernity and cleverness of the Kenton school of music. Ringsiders who half-filled the intimate room came away well pleased.

Sock Arrangements

Miss Christy takes on difficult chores, with the accent heavy on intricate phrasing, so easily adapt- able to her husky, but exceedingly well-controlled pipes. Not content with a mere run-thru of tunes, gal has cooked up some sock arrangements which accent difficult vocal runs, all adding up to a unique, easy- to-listen-to style. Thrush shone brightly on such ditties as
Don't Worry About Me, How High the Moon, Lonely House and Willow, Weep for Me. Her low-down version of Duke Ellington's The Blues was a standout. Gal could include a few more ballads to round out library now top-heavy with blues.

Tri-Tones provide top instrumental backing for thrush and also stand out in solo spot. Group's instrumentation is novel, with conventional piano and bass coupled with clary- flute for a rare effect. Most ear-catching arrangements are those featuring flute -piano running duels, with melody line sustained thruout. Vocally, threesome shells out a generous helping of novelties with pianist Buddy Worth okay on solo tunes.

Brown-skinned pianist-thrush Nellie Lutcher rounds out show. While customers were satisfied in general bill is top heavy on music and strongly in need of more variety.
Alan Fischler
"On the Stand. Stan Kenton. Balboa Beach Rendezvous Ballroom." Billboard. 11 October 1947: 23.
Stan Kenton

(Reviewed at Balboa Beach. Rendezvous Ballroom, Balboa Beach, Calif., September 26. Booked thru General Artists Corporation. Personal manager, Carlos Gastel. Publicity, Gene Howard and Milton Karle.)

TRUMPETS: Buddy Childers, Ray Wetzel, Al Porcino, Chico Alvarez and Ken Hanna.

TROMBONES: Milton Bernhart, Eddie Bart, Harry Forbes, Harry Betts and Bart Varsalona.

SAXES: George Weidler, Bob Cooper, Warner Weidler and Bob Gioga.

RHYTHM: Stan Kenton, piano and leader; Eddie Safranski, bass; Shelly Manne, drums; Laurindo Almeido, guitar; Jack Costanza, bongo.

VOCALISTS: June Christy and Ray Wetzel.

ARRANGERS: Pete Rugolo, Stan Kenton and Ken Hanna.

Six years ago, a youthful ivory-dusting fronter brought his freshly rehearsed crew into this dancery for its first date. Their stay stretched into a four-month engagement. It was here that personal manager Carlos Gastel first heard the ork and brought it under his p.m. wing, and it was here that the band sky-rocketed into prominence.

Hence, it is little wonder that Stan Kenton would return to the Balboa Beach Rendezvous Ballroom for his re-entry into the band biz, following his nine-month rest period. When health forced the disbanding of his aggregation, Kenton promised that when he reorganized the new band, it would include all his former men available at that time. Fact that the majority of his key men have returned to the fold is responsible for his ability to maintain the same spirit and flavor that was a part of the old aggregation. Only saxman Vido Musso is noticed in his absence. (Musso, after an earlier unsuccessful try, is again turning fronter.)

Tram Section In Kenton’s all-important trumpet wing there’s only one replacement, Al Porcino. Milton Bernhart and Harry Forbes are two former members who form the nucleus in the new tram section. Three Kenton oldsters hold down the five-man sax department while Eddie Safranski (bass) and Shelly Manne (drum) are in their former rhythm chairs. Incidentally, Kenton has introduced the bongo into his rhythm wing striving to inject a fresh sound into the beat department.

Kenton’s rest has noticeably helped him. He works with renewed vitality but never loses his easy and relaxed stage manners. The ork has not irreparably suffered from the layoff. It still packs the old powerhouse punch and can pour out the flashes of instrumental color to match last year’s product. True, this was opening night for an ork that had not worked together for a number of months and there are a couple of fluffs and rough spots here and there which must be expected in the circumstances. Only more playing time will iron out these slight flaws. However, as a whole, the ork has bounced back into its old groove with amazing ease.

June Christy, who had worked as a single during the band’s layoff and seriously considered staying on her own, was welcomed with open arms by the customers. — Lee Zhito.
Smith, Bill. "Vaudeville Reviews. Paramount, New York." Billboard. 3 January 1948: 35.
Paramount, New York
(Wednesday, December 24)

Capacity, 3,654. Prlce range, 55 cents to $1.50. Five shows dally; six Saturdays. House bookers, Harry Levine-Henry Frankel. Show
played by band on bill.

The house has a
fine bill for its Christmas show, which doesn’t depend on holiday season cliches for its heft. It moves beautifully and packs a heavy entertainment wallop, Stan Kenton’s ork (five sax, five trumpets, five trombones, three rhythm plus Kenton’s piano and a timbales man) did one of the pleasantest jobs we have seen since first catching it in a theater years ago. He still goes in for discordant arrangements, but now tempers it with comedy and his Peanut Vendor, which satisfied everybody in the house. For comedy he used his St. James Infirmary with the band “threatening” to walk out. The sidemen’s bits in this number may have been corny, but they broke up the house.

Kenton’s Peanut Vendor was thrilling and exciting. The tune gave the rhythm lads a chance, the melody came thru, it was familiar and the arrangement was extremely skillful. Commercially it was sock from the opening note to the last blast.

June Christy, hep band canary, stopped the show. The audience, consisting mostly of Christy fans, yelled and applauded so long that the blond girl had to come back for an extra number, Willow Weep for Me. The gal’s style is highly individualistic. Her flat, off-key tones are not particularly pleasant to a non hep audience, but given a house who digs her, she’s terrific.

Vic Damone had the ushers going crazy. The boy, working his first Stem theater date, got squeals and moans almost from his opening, Here and there a couple of nervy kids took flashlight pix, adding to the ushers’ troubles. To judge from his reception and from the fact that house started to empfy after he finished, Damone is obviously box office. The slightly built lad opened with a zippy Almost Like Falling in Love to the wonderful piano backing of Jack Kelly. Followed with a ballad, a novelty and wound up with I Have But One Heart and an Italian number. Whatever be sang, the crowd ate it up. His beg-off-thank-you speech was humble and in good taste.

The first act was the Martin Brothers, puppeteers, who got excellent results, particularly from their shy clown and Sambo numbers. The boys handled the dolls expertly, but what was equally important was their sly, life-like bits, which sold beautifully.

Stump and Stumpy are still a couple of fine hoofers. But it is their antics and mad chatter that get the yocks. The two boys broke the house up time and again with their lunatic malaprops, winding up to a terrific mitt.

Pic, Where There’s Life.

Bill Smith.

Tell, Jack. "Vaudeville Reviews. Adams Theater, Newark, N.J." Billboard. 6 March 1948: 43.
Adams Theater, Newark, N.J.
(Thursday, February 26)

Capacity, 2,000. Price policy, 50 cents-$1. Number of shows, five daily. House booker, Mickey Aldrich. Show played by band on bill.

Judging from standees on opening day, Stan Kenton rules the roost in drawing power at this house. Two standard acts, Pat Henning and Meribeth Old, fitted snugly into the Kenton aggregation to round out a powerhouse bill. The only kinks were the brass-heavy beat drowning out band canary June Christy. The chirp had them wrapped up all the way and begged off.

The Kenton book didn’t vary much from the ork’s stand at the Paramount, N.Y., two months ago. Their St. James Infirmary routine with nearly all the sidemen breaking up Kenton’s vocal pitch had the house in stitches. Riff brass bleats in the skillfully arranged Peanut Vendor number had the mob swaying in their seats. Milton Bernhart’s tramming of Collaboration and the Artistry in Bass solo by Eddie Saranski, possible show stoppers on a concert stage, got mild receptions but didn’t seem to slacken the pace of the show.

Pat Henning

Pat Henning’s raspy voice almost got him into trouble at the start, because it was a strain to hear him clearly, but the clever comic pulled out quickly with a slight change of tone, talking slower, and from there on it was a shoo-in. Selling with a regular-guy delivery, his constant rapping of the management caught howls with every mention. The take-offs of the flicker names, using quickie sounds for complete impreshes, made for a novel impersonation act.

Acro-contortionlst Merlbeth Old, working on a raised platform, displayed several mitt-getting stunts. The gal did a variety of waist bends, and closed strong with a no-hand pinwheel.

This stand marks a break in Kenton’s 60-day concert tour of one-nighters in which he set a new pop-house gross mark of $8,800 at Carnegie Hall, February 14 (The Billboard, February 21).

Pic, Smokey River Serenade.

Jack Tell.

Smith, Bill. "Vaudeville Reviews. Paramount, New York." Billboard. 4 December 1948: 41.
Paramount, New York
(Wednesday, November 24)

Capacity, 3645. Prices 55 cents to $1.50. Five shows daily. House booker, Harry Levine. Show played by name band on bill.

What excitement is present in the current show is generated by Stan Kenton’s band loaded with brass and percussionists, and Nellie Lutcher in her first date at this house. Kenton now uses a Latin beat in practically every number he does, whether it is his Peanut Vender, where the beat is natural, or something like Love for Sale. The effect, tho strange, is very pleasant. Kenton gets his added beats from the brass section (five), which drops trumpets for maraccas and their variations. There is little doubt that the long-legged fronter has imagination and the push to put it into use. His work in various musical media—bebop, long hair and rumba—all joined together in one number, builds up excitingly for rapt listening and solid applause.

In the act department, red Buttons does a pleasant rather than an outstanding job. Buttons, one of the newer comics, was a hit at the harem. But while he projected in the cafe, here in the Paramount he doesn’t. Much of the fault is in technique, something that takes hard work to acquire. Little subtleties which can break up a cafe mob are lost in a theater. Buttons’ autograph book routine is okay, tho it’s his German emsee turn which seems to have the greater theater possibilities. Incidentally, his line, “Cheese and crackers,” may be a widely accepted Buttons trade-mark.

Nellie a Standout

Nellie Lutcher was the spark that made the show. Her well known Hurry on Downs, Real Gone Guy and other Capitol record hits got big mitts as soon as they were recognized, and paid off with still bigger hands when she finished. Miss Lutcher worked like a real showman She was completely uninhibited and seemed to enjoy herself so much that the house liked her right from the start.

June Christy Chirps

June Christy received a tremendous hand for her walk-on and went right into her stylized How High the Moon and I Remember April. Yet while the intro was big, her exit was only polite. Perhaps singing to a handful of aficionados who understand musical distortions isn’t enough. The theater also draws heavily from people who like music they understand.

The show opened with a gimmick for the house’s 22d anniversary celebration. The gimmick was Eddie Fisher, who sang George Wright’s organ work. The pit was still down when he began. The lad, caught before in local niteries, showed a very pleasant bary the kids liked.

Pic, Miss Tatlock’s Millions.

Bill Smith