Jazz Journal

The Capitol News
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Tanner, Peter. "Record Review: Concerto to End All Concertos, Pts. 1 and 2 (Brit. Capitol CL 13130)." Jazz Journal, September 1949.
Tanner, Peter. "Record Review: Fugue for Rhythm Section / Chorale for Brass, Piano and Bongo (Brit. Capitol CL 13084); Lover / Capitol Punishment (Brit. Capitol CL 13074)." Jazz Journal, June 1949.
Tanner, Peter. "Record Review: How Am I to Know? / the Spider and the Fly (Brit. Capitol CL 13093)." Jazz Journal, July 1949.
Otto, Albert S. "The New Stan Kenton Band." Jazz Journal, May 1950.
Horricks, Raymond A. "Some Thoughts on Kenton." Jazz Journal, March 1953.
"Stan Kenton Plays for the USAF at Sculthorpe." Jazz Journal, November 1953.
Hopes, J H, and John Linsell. "Counterpoint, Kenton and Confusion, Or: Is Kenton to Be the Whiteman of the 1950's?" Jazz Journal, November 1954.
Dance, Stanley. "Lightly and Politely. Space Music." Jazz Journal, February 1955.
"Space Music." Jazz Journal, February 1955.
"Cover. Stan Kenton." Jazz Journal. April 1956. cover.
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Traill, Sinclair. "Kenton—The Concert." Jazz Journal, April 1956.
If only because this was the first American orchestra to be permitted to play in this country for over twenty years, the first Stan Kenton concert at the Albert Hall was an historic occasion.

Although it had been reported that the hall was completely sold out months before the concert, there were numbers of empty seats all over the house, and tickets were being offered for sale at half price by the “boys” outside. This in itself put us in a good humour, and we took our seats almost prepared to like anything—we hate the ticket racket and are always hugely amused when it goes astray and the scalpers get caught. But to return to the concert.

With the precision of a well trained army band the Kenton orchestra took the stage by numbers. First, with thumbs in line with their seams and their instruments at ease, came the trumpet section; then the trombones plus tuba; to be followed by the saxophones, the French
horns and, almost apologetically, the rhythm section. Quietly attired in dove grey suitings, with the most un-American plain black ties, the band sat quiescent, awaiting 'the pleasure of the maestro himself.

From the outset it was apparent that the audience was ninety per cent a Kenton audience. Like the band they were quiet, very well behaved and most unemotional. They applauded all the well known Kenton standards, they clapped his new compositions. but at no time during the whole afternoon did they raise a single whistle or lose their cool composure.

The band fitted into the picture perfectly. Ultra-rehearsed they did their stuff like Guards on parade—accurately, neatly and without excitement. For effect they rely almost entirely on arrangements, plus well drilled and impressive showmanship. The trombone team were the stronger of the brass sections and were inclined to overblow the rest of the band, but this may have been the fault of the infamous “Albert-echo” which can play the strangest pranks with an orchestra of this size. The reason for the inclusion of French horns and tuba was never made clear to us for they were practically inaudible and added little to the band’s performance. On the whole the soloists were impressive. Both tenor saxophonists Bill Perkins and Spencer Sinatra showed great talent, the former in particular demonstrating that he at least knew the meaning of the verb to swing. Trombonist Carl Fontana and alto saxophonist Lennie Niehaus were also noticeable. The latter gave evidence of great musicianship and a tremendous wealth of ideas. He could have exhibited more warmth in his playing and more swing, but he plays in the cool idiom and therefore must be judged as a modernist.

Curtis Counce’s bass playing was quite outstanding. Even in the Albert Hall he managed to cut through ensembles, and with drummer Mel Lewis he formed a formidable rhythm team to aid the soloists.Yet even so the band as a whole are completely lacking in rhythmic propulsion. In comparison with the bands of Basie or Ellington the Kenton orchestra does not swing. Its strength lies in the dexterous arrangements; its smart showmanship and its talented array to soloists.

It is predicted that the orchestra will have a very successful tour, for in their leader they have a man of most pleasing personality, both on and off the stage. As a rhythmic unit they bring exactly nothing to jazz, but as players of modern progressive arrangements, drilled to complete faultlessness, they are bound to attract a large following from those newly interested in modern music .
Goodwin, Keith. "Kenton—The Band." Jazz Journal, April 1956.
It seems hard to believe that I have at last heard a real live American band playing to a British audience, and almost harder to believe that the man I spent the last two evenings with is Lennie Niehaus—the same extraordinary alto saxophonist I wrote about in this magazine almost a year ago.

Sunday’s concert has been reviewed elsewhere in this magazine. But what of the men who make the music? How do they person ally feel about their visit to Britain, and what do they talk about? Well, they are inquisitive about our coinage, our history, our social problems, our taxis, and quite obviously, our jazz.

Lennie Niehaus, bigger and broader than his photographs suggest is inseparable from his colleague Bill Perkins. Lennie has been named as the logical successor to Charlie Parker, and his playing certainly merits a good deal of thought and study. At college, he majored in theory and composition, and received his Batchelor of Arts degree. He has written legitimate compositions for violin and clarinet quartets, and shocked his family when he decided to centre his attentions on the alto saxophone.

Bill Perkins is one of the newer names in modern jazz—a tenor saxist in the Getz-Sims tradition. He has been with Kenton for over a year now, and was featured extensively on the recent “Kenton Showcase” LP. Much of his work has been on the West Coast, and he has recorded with Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, and others of the Pacific coast “clique.”

Guitarist Ralph Blaze has been with Kenton on and off since 1950. He left for a spell in 1953 to open his own club, but rejoined Stan when the present band was formed. He is a very underrated musician as his very tasteful ad lib accompaniments to Lennie and Bill in their solo spots go to prove.

Bill, Lennie and Ralph were all very impressed by Alan Clare’s piano work at the Studio Club, but they were surprised when so few people applauded. Ralph took a keen interest in the guitar playing of Len Sykora and Ike Issaacs, with the apt comment: “Very French, with a lot of Django touches.”

At the Studio 51 club, all three were very enthusiastic over trumpeter Dizzy Reece and tenorist Don Rendell. They echoed the thoughts of so many jazz writers when they said that Dizzy had a wonderful “feel” for jazz. Bearded lead trumpet Ed Leddy, was equally impressed, and joined the others in the opinion that although the club premises were far from ideal, the music was great. In America, they told me, there is very little dancing in clubs and the listener never has to strain his ears to hear the music.

Sunday morning in the Royal Albert Hall band room produced the usual last minute worries, but if any of the band were nervous, then they certainly didn’t show it. Between changing into his uniform, drummer Mel Lewis found time to tell me of a great new album he cut with Kenton under the title of “Contemporary Concepts.” Apparently, Mel has been on a lot of record sessions in the past few years and was surprised to learn that little of his work has been released over here.

Trumpet player Sam Noto was a little worried about the infamous Albert Hall acoustics. Before the show, he ventured: “Perhaps the audience will absorb a lot of sound,” but during the interval he lightly complained, “we’re all blowing hard, but nothing is happening!” From the short time I was able to talk to the rest of the band I learnt from Vinnie Tano that he had played trumpet with Tommy Dorsey, Ray Anthony and had had a long spell with Lionel Hampton; that French horn player Irving Rosenthall had spent most of his playing career with the Hollywood symphony orchestra, but that he was a jazzman at heart; and that Curtis Counce—who received a tumultuous ovation at both the Albert Hall and Gaumont State concerts—is tickled to death to be with the Kenton band and was quite “knocked-out “ by the reception he had received.

As for Stan Kenton himself, he was quite unable to find words to describe the way he felt about being in Britain. “It’s just wonderful! “ he said. “We’ve waited so long for this and we are going to do everything we can to make this tour a success. It’s a hard tour but we’re going to enjoy every minute of it.”

This blonde, genial giant of a man is almost a living symbol of the music he plays. Big, strong, impressive and purposeful, his lean 6ft. 4in. frame dominates the stage, but he is lavish in his praise of his musicians at all times, and they on the other hand were all keen to tell you that Stan Kenton is in every way the best band leader in the world to work for.
Nicholls, Brian. "A Jazzman's Diary—Stan the Man." Jazz Journal, April 1956.
The big event of this month was most definitely the arrival of Stan Kenton and His Orchestra. With Louis Armstrong and the All Stars coming to Britain hot on the Kenton heels, we are in for a busy time in the immediate future. Agent Harold Davison, who smooth-talked the Americans into an exchange of Armstrong and Kenton for Ted Heath and Freddy Randall, deserves all our praise. Just what the American reaction is going to be we’d hate to think, but from our point of view it’s just fine.

The Press reception for Stan Kenton was a gala affair—held in relays at the Society Restaurant in Jermyn Street. We arrived at about 6 o’clock. and. as we entered the foyer we noticed a tall grey haired and rather distinguished looking man walking downstairs with an extremely attractive woman. We recognised Stan Kenton and assumed that the woman was his wife. Ann Richards. This was in fact the case, and we can appreciate why any band leader would hasten to marry a vocalist who looked like that. We didn’t see much of either of them after this, for Kenton was surrounded by editors, agents and other members of the hierarchy and Ann was the centre of a small knot of writers looking for the human interest angle:

“Is it true that you’ve given up singing permanently, Miss Richards?”

“What does it feel like to be married to a famous band leader like Mr. Kenton?”

All this was carried on in the centre of a fair sized reception room under the steaming glare of six or more arc lamps, which were continuously being augmented for the benefit of the photographers. Forced by the danger of suffocation to move to the outskirts of the mob, we discovered that all the interesting things were going on in the fringe area. For one thing. the outer regions of the bar were less crowded, and for another, we discovered a table groaning with caviare for our refreshment.

In the shadows of one corner of the room we discovered Mike Butcher, Tony Hall and Edgar Jackson bending the ears of some American styled gentlemen. This looked promising and we discovered that they had obtained a monopoly on the conversation rights to Lennie Niehaus. Bill Perkins and Ralph Blaze: the only members of the band to have come to the reception. Lennie Niehaus looked a little plumper than his photograph on the cover of the Vogue LP would lead one to suspect, but he and the other two talked a whole lot of sense. If these three are a fair sample of the standard of courtesy and intelligence in this Kenton band, we can be doubly enthusiastic in welcoming them as our first legalised visiting American band for 20 years.
Witt, Hugh. "Kenton." Jazz Journal, March 1973.
Right to the day, Stan Kenton kept his promise. He might have been a few miles away at Ronnie Scott's on February 10, instead of at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, where he made his promise, hut he was in England all the same.

It was at the end of a triumphant Fairfield Hall concert on Thursday, February 10 last year that someone in the audience shouted through the applause: “Where've you been Stan?” It was an understandable outburst; the Kenton orchestra had been away for too many years.

Kenton replied to a roar of approval: “I haven't been here since 1963; I 'm sorry. I've been busy. I probably couldn't give an honest account of where I've been but I know where I'm going to be next year—right here.”

Now of course it’s all over again, the European tour which brought the band through Italy. Switzerland and Holland before playing in thirteen towns in England.

The concerts, as always with Kenton, were exciting and surprising. The visual impact of the band in concert, its great sense of presence, is as thrilling as its music and the sheer power of the ensemble is unequalled.

The arguments will no doubt continue on how much of Kenton's music really is jazz. And certainly the new double LP album National Anthems Of The World will add fuel to the discussion.

The records, on Kenton's own Creative World label, contain arrangements by Robert Curnow of 38 of the world's National Anthems, all “treated with full appreciation of the solemnity and meaning of the music.”

Those who attended the Kenton concerts last year will remember the enthusiastic audience reaction to the playing of God Save The Queen at the end of the performances. The National Anthem was included in Decca's on-the-spot records.

It was as a result of the interest in God Save The Queen, played with more energy and enthusiasm than it can ever have been played before, that Kenton embarked on research into others of the world's National Anthems.

In a letter in his Creative World bulletin, Kenton writes: “For a number of years the orchestra has had in its hook a special arrangement of the British national anthem, originally prepared for use on our tours of England. Audience response to our interpretation of it was so extraordinarily enthusiastic that it inspired the recording of other anthems.”

The records include another God Save The Queen, plus the familiar French La Marseillaise, the German Deutschlandlied and the American Star Spangled Banner.

Among the others are the anthems of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Greece, Switzerland, Nationalist China, Poland, Portugal, India, Wales, Spain, Austria, Italy, Canada, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and Japan.

Also included are the seldom-heard anthem of the People's Republic of China and the Hymn Of The Soviet Union. National hymns of Chile, Peru and Venezuela represent the anthems of South America and there are also Kenton treatments of the anthems of Korea, Burma, Chana, Guinea, Israel and Hungary. There is a rousing version of Wilhelmus van Nassouwe (Holland) and a sedate Amhran Na bhFiann. the Soldier's Song (Ireland). The United States is also represented by An American Trilogy, a fusion of Dixie, Battle Hymn Of The Republic and America The Beautiful.

The band's personnel for its European tour contained several familiar faces and some new ones. Tenor saxist Dick Torres made a welcome return, as did altoist Willie Maiden and the remarkable conga drummer Ramon Lopez. But the explosive John Ohlen was replaced by drummer Peter Erskine.

Pianist Kenton also brought with him Dennis Noday, Paul Adamson, Michael Snustead, Frank Minear (tpt): Dick Shearer, Harvey Coonin, Phil Herring, Lloyd Spoon, Joe Wallace (tmb): Chris Caluman (sax): John Worster (bs). Others included in the personnel were: Jack Sandmeier, Chuck Anderson, Royston Reynolds and John Parks.