Byline – Stan Kenton

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"Stan Kenton Tells His Story: 'Finding a New Field,' He Says." Capitol News. February 1949. 5.
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STAN KENTON, who says he has retired from music, looked like this seven years ago when he formed his band in Southern California. In a signed story, here, he frankly answers the questions of a legion of fans who were astounded when he disbanded recently.

Because of the many unusual reports and rumors without basis that have arisen out of the recent disbandment of my orchestra, Dave Dexter of Capitol has asked me to submit to him an honest and sincere written explanation of the reasons and main purpose of my making these steps.

First of all, let me state that my feelings and belief in our music, or the growth of jazz in general, have not been affected in the slightest measure. I am deeply grateful for the success our music has achieved and I feel that every ounce of effort put into the seven and a half years of its existence has been more than compensated for by the appreciation shown us, not only here in the United States but throughout the rest of the world. I feel confident that if we had continued we would have endeavored to create music worthy of this wonderful acceptance which I treasure so much.

Strain Just Too Much

I have always been a musician and have worked constantly towards the field in which the band now belongs. It took tremendous effort on everyone's part; this includes everyone from the musicians themselves to the singers, arrangers, road managers, property men, publicity staff and on to myself. It is difficult to put into words the strain—both physically and mentally—that comes about and continues to exist without let-up.

This situation was even more exaggerated with our organization because we would not alter the music to fit into some resting place, such as hotels or clubs. A greater task yet was to find any such places capable of paying even our minimum expenses.

The result was our constantly moving on the road until finally, the loss of all sense of time or place took over. I've personally gone for months on end with only two, three or four hours of sleep—and sometimes none at all.

Won't Change His Music

Even though today I feel in the best of health, logic tells me that no person can live, or exist long, under such conditions. It is truly a case of using nervous energy constantly. I would not change our music for any purpose, whether it be for radio, motion pictures or any medium that might ease this pace, because their demands are too restricting, making musical freedom impossible.

I know that some bands break up and start again to gain rest periods, but this I do not believe in, because it goes to make an unsure music business and eventually the faith of the public is lost.

Psychiatry Attracts Him

I am currently in the process of finding a new field. At present I'm not quite sure, but I believe the greatest personal interest for me is in the field of psychiatry.

I know there is no route to this without first going into medicine, so it might be that soon I'll be just as interested in this as I am in music.

Great Step, Stan Admits

In any event, these are just the efforts on one person's part to try to find a life that can be just as productive and inspiring as the one previously known, without the heavy physical and emotional toll.

With me I know this is a great step, and it has to be an honest one, because many are involved.
"Sure, I Helped to Wreck the Dance Biz." Down Beat. 19 May 1950. 1, 26.
"My Worst on Wax." Down Beat. 2 June 1950. 18.
The worst dogs I ever made were Gotta Be Gettin', which Anita O'Day sang, and Good Night, Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart, which Gene Howard sang. We made them about six years ago. In those days, we were trying to put out some novelties that people would buy. We were trying to sell the public a herring, but the public smelled it and walked off.

One nice advantage we have in this business is that people never remember your dogs. They don’t know about them because the bad records never get out of the music stores.

Called It Off

We quit making things like that when I finally said let's cut it out. I made a deal with Capitol records and they've been absolutely wonderful ever since.

The deal was this. I told Capitol that I didn't want to have anyone in the studio when I was recording. I didn't want anyone telling me what to do and what not to do. In return for this, I agreed that when I was on the road I would visit music stores, talk to sales meetings, and open up new accounts in washing machine shops.

Mind Own Businesses

We both kept the agreement. The result is that Capitol stays out of the studio and releases what I say to release. And at Capitol they say I'm the greatest salesman they ever had.

Of course, this gives me a lot more to worry about on a record date. I can't blame anyone if anything goes wrong. Whatever happens, good or bad, it's my fault.
"The Editors Speak. Stan Kenton: New Names for Jazz Records." Metronome. August 1954. 34.
(Editors George Simon and Barry Ulanov are proud this month to turn over the space usually allotted to their personal editorials to some editorializing from someone whom both respect tremendously. He is Stan Kenton, who, in addition to his bandleading duties, has recently been appointed head of all jazz recording for Capitol Records. The editors congratulate both Capitol and Stan, and feel certain that you, too, will be intensely interested in what Stan Kenton has to say about a subject to which the major portion of this issue has been dedicated.)

PHONOGRAPH RECORDS have been one of the most important contributions to the development of jazz. Without them we would probably be still struggling with the earliest forms of the art. They are documentary evidence of the phases in the growth of the music, and to musicians, they are invaluable because records have been a means of study and education. Young students of the music have been able to acquaint themselves with the ability of the professional and in turn the accomplished performers, through records, have been able to analyze each others’. In the future, as in the past, we will depend greatly upon phonograph records for development, so it is necessary that all recorded jazz be the finest possible whether it be traditional, dixieland, swing or modern. Bad recorded efforts can hurt greatly because, if the music is to grow, we must attract more interest. Too many potential jazz fans have been exposed to badly recorded music, either from the technical engineering of the record or the music itself, or both, and have lost interest.

The future of jazz is inspiring for many reasons. Somehow at the close of the second World War jazz was able to break the shackels of popular music and strike out on its own. Because jazz is now not having to carry its share of the hit parade, it is developing faster artistically. In America we now have Classical music, Popular music, and Jazz, three separate musical expressions. Many record labels have become established as specialists in Jazz and existed on the music alone. Today even the major commercial labels are showing excited concern for the music and are endeavoring to get a foothold on the jazz market. Competition is going to be great and we all know that this is the essence of achievement. Great care should be taken by everyone in this business of recording because money wasted on inferior jazz is going to be a loss. The fans are going to be more calculating in their choice because the record releases today are vast and the future will be saturation.

It we, at Capitol, are going to gain and hold our share of the fans attention we must seek out the young ambitious Jazz artist. We want people who believe enough in the music to become full time workers for it. I believe that the day of the studio musician making jazz records for a hobby is finished. We want specialists in jazz, musicians who not only want to make records but perform the music publicly. Nothing sells records like personal appearances.

All of us in the recording industry should try to record what we believe to be the best efforts in jazz, then figure a means to exploit and sell it. If the music is to thrive we must find those who want a chance and do our utmost to build them. Jazz clubs and concert cannot exist on today's names in Jazz. There are not enough of the big attractions. We must build the lesser known into box office strength or the clubs and concerts will fail. There could be no greater setback than this.

Jazz has come a long way from its origin in New Orleans and it has a long road ahead. Someday the world will accept jazz as America's cultural music. We can make that day come sooner if we all are conscientious in presenting what we believe to be the best. The talent is developing fast and we have the most powerful weapon of exploitation: phonograph records!
"Stan on Jazz Today." Metronome. March 1955. 18.
The man, himself, offers a searching analysis of the status of a great art form, plus some pertinent suggestions regarding its longevity

THE STATUS at present of modern jazz is very gratifying. Much of what many of us wanted for the music has come to pass and the future will bring more rewarding developments—however, not without a challenge. This is a bargain for progress that gives one point to gain another.

We all wanted the opportunity to play our jazz without having to restrict its performance to functional purposes. We felt we could offer a better grade of jazz if we didn't have to play ballroom music or abide by the hit parade. Necessary, too, we believed, were original compositions which gave freedom. When the time came to blow we wanted to do so without inhibiting hazards such as volume and other numerous objections. It was a dream of the future to work for promoters and proprietors who understood us. An agency's interest in you because of jazz was an absurdity, and to talk to a recording executive regarding the possibility of a contract for jazz exclusively was inconceivable.

All this and more has come to pass and things are moving rapidly. Now modern jazz is not leaning on popular dance music, hiding behind a vaudeville performance or serving in any other supporting role which sometimes offered excuses for bad presentations. Jazz is now free from all this muddle of hindrance, but in ridding itself of all these shackles it has become obligated to greater demands being made of it. It now must be classed as art music, music for music's sake alone. Today the same fans who seek modern jazz support contemporary classical music. The two fields have gained a kinship. This brings a big responsibility to all of us in modern jazz in every phase of it.

We know that every day new developments are occurring in jazz. There has never been such serious study and effort in its creation as in the present-day youth of the music. Its future from this standpoint seems secure, but the jazz following must be expanded. We know that no spearhead of any cultural art can ever expect mass acceptance, but modern music in general should enjoy more popularity. Every artist, whether composer, performer or both, owes not only himself, but the entire field, a debt in what might be considered “selling.” Each soloist, leader of a small or large group is by all laws of presentation a salesman. Too many times a leader or soloist neglects to introduce, explain, or, worse yet, even acknowledge his audience. I have found that people, whether sitting in a jazz club, concert hall, or other forms of contact, are very anxious to try to understand and feel what is going on. A word or two from those on stage is most welcome. Audiences are not expected to make allowances for inhibitions stemming from stage, microphone, spotlight, or any other excuse.

Some musicians say, “what is there to explain? The music speaks for itself.” Which, in part, is true, but much, more acceptance, interest and affection could be achieved with this courtesy from the performer. This and other efforts to help the fans gain a clearer picture as to what is happening will help the new music in its acceptance.

Jazz also needs more traveling salesmen. Along with phonograph records must go personal appearances. Competition for favor is rising, and the musicians who get out and away from their homes are going to enjoy more popularity. Nothing inspires record sales like appearances in person. The most popular personalities in jazz are enterprising artists who realize this. The field needs more big names and can have them only if this advantage is taken.

Another necessary effort must be made by the artist. He must become more aware of the business end of the music. Too few musicians realize the problems of a club operator or concert promoter. If we are to have places to play our music, there has to be closer cooperation with these men. Most of these fellows are promoting jazz because they love the music, but it takes successful operation to keep them in business. We can help by endeavoring to understand their problems. They sometimes can inform you as to their particular club's or territory's peculiarities. This can aid your presentation. In making their clubs and concerts happy and successful we are making opportunities for others. This holds true with agents and managers. There are sometimes problems in arranging bookings for jazz. Musicians should make it their duty to understand these.

I have called attention to only a few of the other important obligations of artists in the creative end of jazz. We all want this young art to mature in all its facets. This can only happen if we become aware of its problems. The future of jazz, with its contrapuntal complexities and loss of tonality, is going to need much understanding and guidance. This demands maturity in every respect in the artist.
"Chords and Discords. A Firm Stan." Down Beat. 5 September 1956. 4.
“Stan Kenton Writes on Modern Music.” The New Beat. March 1959. 16-19
Stan Kenton. "Why the Band Clinic." International Musician. March 1961. 24.
[and Pete Welding] "Big Band Jazz. Look to the Colleges." Down Beat. 27 September 1962. 18-19.
"'It's My Most Important Band' Says Kenton." Crescendo. December 1963. 2-4.