The Network XXVIII

Fall, 2004

Anthony (Tony) J. Agostinelli, Editor
This is THE NETWORK, an internet newsletter about Stan Kenton for his family, friends, fans and alumni. This newsletter has been published in “hard copy” since 1985, and since 2002, it has appeared at various websites.

I Remember Stan


Under the rubric, “I Remember Stan,” this Editor has asked alumni of Stan Kenton’s orchestras and others to write a short piece for this issue of THE NETWORK. What follow is their remembrances of Stan Kenton.

Bill Aiken

I met with Stan at a dance the Kenton band performed at a hotel near LAX. At intermission, I approached him and we talked for several minutes. He was very polite and cordial, and we had some laughs. For such a busy man to take time to talk unhurriedly, I thought it was extraordinary.

George Allan

In 1973, I was working at Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario, which is right across the border from Port Huron, Michigan and on the route from Detroit to Toronto. This geography is important. Somehow, we connected with the Willard Alexander Agency, which handled a number of big bands, including the Stan Kenton Orchestra. I think the name of the nice guy we dealt with was Tom Flanagan; it was he who pointed out that often bands who had just played in Detroit and had their next gig in Toronto had a spare night in between dates. Thus, we could engage them for a concert as they passed through Sarnia on their way to Toronto at a fee we could afford.

As an avid SK fan, receiving the Creative World Newsletter, I was aware of the high school clinics that Stan had started to offer, and so the idea was born to offer both a clinic and a concert at the College. This was also a great way to inaugurate our brand new "gymnatorium"; an attempt, as the awkward name implies, to combine a gymnasium and an auditorium.
Cut to Friday, October 26, 1973; 1:50 p.m. Inside our gymnatorium were 800 high school musicians from all over western Ontario, eastern Michigan, and I think even from Ohio (I had publicized the clinic vigorously). Even though they all played in stage bands (the term was current then) most, if not all, had NEVER heard a big band live - so they were eager, to put it mildly.

I was terrified. With ten minutes to go, there was NO BAND! I stood outside the entrance to the College, scanning the horizon and praying. The minutes ticked by, and I wondered what I was going to do - maybe run like hell after announcing the clinic was cancelled. I have never spent moments that are more agonizing.

Then I saw it - THE BUS!

As the big vehicle pulled up to the curb, I saw its destination sign above the windshield - NOWHERE. The door sprang open and out bounded a very tall man, looking fresh as a daisy and dressed impeccably; it was Stan. He cheerfully greeted me - by name! - and stood back to let the musicians descend.

I have never seen a scruffier-looking bunch than the troupe that ambled out of the bus, especially in contrast to Stan. They all seemed pretty tired, too. As we ushered them across the gym floor into the new locker room to change, the audience was almost silent - maybe they were in shock at the sight of these guys. In addition, they had something to watch as the road men set up the bandstand on the risers we had built specially for the occasion (after we found out what risers were).
We waited a bit and then - a miracle. Emerging from the locker room was a really sharp-looking outfit in spiffy uniforms who quickly took their places on the bandstand. The room fell silent and then Stan emerged. He waved to the crowd, went to the front of the band, raised his long arms, gave the downbeat, and - POW! - the band let forth with a sound like no one in the audience - including us old guys - had ever heard. The audience went wild, and my anxiety evaporated.

Moreover, the sound in "gymnatorium" was terrific.

The clinic was an amazing success; the concert that evening a triumph. In between, Stan had dinner with my boss and me and Peter C. Newman (I had REALLY publicized this event), who had come down to Sarnia from Toronto with a friend who represented Creative World in Canada. They sold records at intermission!

During dinner, Stan was the epitome of graciousness. There was only one slightly tense moment, when I innocently asked him a question he probably had heard a thousand times: "Stan, when you wrote were you influenced by a passage from Ravel?" He answered rather coldly, "No," and I quickly changed the subject. (“Daphnis and Chloe”)

After the concert, the band retired to a local motel where I had made reservations for them. I still regret I did not get a copy of the register recording their stay.

Inspired by the success of this momentous event we went on to have a number of other big bands in concert at the College: Count Basie, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson. Then the economics ran out. The fee for Stan, for both the clinic and concert, was $1500; we charged $4 admission. The price for the other bands was comparable. Nevertheless, inexorably the costs rose until it was out of our reach.

So for one brief shining moment, we gloried in the big bands. And of course, the pinnacle for me was organizing the clinic and concert by the Stan Kenton Orchestra - and having the pleasure, briefly, of his company.

Don Armstrong

I Remember Stan . . YES . . I know I will always remember Stan.

From the start, in 1945, we sat on my front porch, with the old Silvertone blasting the neighborhood with "Southern Scandal" . . . went through three of those 78's that summer.
Today, I enjoy the "trip" that the Stan Kenton Orchestra has taken me on. When one returns to the '40's style and then jumps ahead to the '70's, it is like "Mach 10."

It has also been a pleasure to have followed the players, singers, writers and arrangers that have filled the Kenton library with music we in Kentonia love and enjoy.

My association with the Kenton Clan will be my contribution to the “I Remember Stan” Club” Many thanks to The Network! Through your continuing efforts, Tony, my Kentonia friends extend internationally. Thank you.

Fred Augerman

My initial meeting with Stan Kenton happened at the Crystal Beach Ballroom, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada on the night of July 1, 1953. I had seen the band the previous fall In Buffalo, New York when it was part of the Biggest Show of '52 package, but did not make contact with Stan.

The night of July 1, 1953 would change all that, when my Mother, Father, and I spent close to 2 hours with my idol, on the very bandstand that they had performed on that evening. The early morning hours from 1:20 AM until 3:05 AM are still emblazoned on my mind.

And so began a very long relationship with myself, my parents, and the person who was unquestionably the greatest bandleader of his time. For the next 26 years I had the privilege of being more than just a fan, for as the year's went by and my career in broadcasting progressed, I was able to contribute, by promoting the band's whereabouts especially any dates that it had in Southern Ontario, as well as play it's latest recordings on various shows that I produced for the CBC.

It was not until 2 years after the initial meeting in 1953, that my Mother told me that Stan had called her 2 weeks after our meeting at Crystal Beach. He wanted to know if I could go on the band's first European tour in September as the "band" boy. My Mother said yes, my Father said no, and he won. I can only imagine what direction my life may have taken if I had been allowed to go on that tour. The reason my Mother waited so long to tell me was that she knew that I would be very upset about not being able to go on what turned out to be one of the biggest big band success stories music wise in the 50's.

As the years went by, and the relationship solidified, it was almost surreal at times, but it never ceased to amaze, that a kid of 14 years of age could be so lucky to not only have met his idol, but enjoy one of the best relationships with one of the most complicated, talented, human beings, I had ever had the pleasure of knowing.

I could have related many individual "incidents" some funny and some sad, but I chose not to, suffice it for me to say, that it was a privilege and an honour to have been associated with one of the most dynamic big band leaders of all time, and I still miss the bus to "Nowhere".

Ed Bride

We were all listening to some other music before Stan came into our lives. Many were already hooked on big bands; for others, our taste was just being developed. My personal experience probably echoes the conventional wisdom: what you hear when you are young tends to influence what you prefer in your evolving and senior years.

On the other hand, the route is not always direct. In my case, I heard a lot of Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk at home, and I must say that neither was my cup of tea. Vaughn Monroe, Frankie Laine? Well, sort-of. I do remember seeing Ellington at Radio City.

But by 8th grade, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley were my music heroes, although it was refreshing to hear Honky Tonk (Part II, if you please). Then, a buddy discovered and played Kenton’s “Intermission Riff” one day after school, and my musical life was changed forever. It was instant.

In high school, I wrote an essay about Kenton’s impact on the parking lot and staffing of the ballroom at Lake Compounce, where I would hear him every year. It was a pure PR job: I envisioned the part needing to triple its staff to handle the throngs, but upon reflection, the Kenton nights were just average nights (I was too young to know the band in its real heyday). Nonetheless, I got the park owners (friends of the family) to give my paper to Stan. During the dance/concert, as he was bending down to give autographs, I dared introduce myself, and he shook hands and thanked me for the paper. I asked him to autograph it, and he asked if he could keep it. Imagine my thrill.

Three or four years later, I was running the Villanova Intercollegiate Jazz Festival. Since Stan had already helped birth the Notre Dame festival, I thought he might pay some attention to ours. I got his home telephone number from Capitol Records (can you imagine that happening today?), reintroduced myself (“Sure, I remember you”. I wonder if he really did), and explained the purpose of my call. He was glad to come on board as our Chief Advisor.

Each year, except for the year that Lance was at Synanon, Stan was the on-air host for delayed broadcasts of our festival (on PBS, which at the time was called Educational Television. The local station that recorded it was WHYY in Philadelphia, now home of Fresh Air). The practice continued for years into the future, and I like to think of that as my contribution to the school and to the festival scene. In my senior year, Stan called me out before the crowd in my senior year, calling me an inspiration to those who believe in Jazz.

Although I saw him frequently in my travels, on both coasts and in Europe, and he visited our home, I have to say that that introduction was one of the top five highlights of my life. When Stan died, I could not play his music for a year, and it was probably Tony Agostinelli’s “birthday parties” in Providence that brought me back. So, I am thankful that Tony held those tributes. Tony and I later hooked up on radio, visiting WGBH and later WAMC in Albany, for annual tributes.

The “Kentonia” group on Yahoo, of which I am now the overseer, owes a lot to Tony; he started the first mailing list on another site and without that list, this one would not exist. In addition, I thank him for those Kenton birthdays, because who knows how long my period of musical mourning would have continued.

[Ed Bride, Pittsfield, MA, November 19, 2004 (written at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, while on break during a program)

Brian H. Brocklehurst

As many other devotees of 'The Big Man' my first real introduction to 48 years of 'Kenton mania' was when I saw him and the Orchestra for the first time on a cold damp 18th March 1956 in Manchester England.

After the 19 band members had taken their places and played the opening Theme, the tall figure of Stan, in smart beige suite, slowly walked on stage and over to the piano, fingered the opening notes to 'Stomping at the Savoy' all to tremendous applause. I had for the three previous years heard frequent records of Stan's music on AFN from a very crackly radio. To hear the clearly executed arrangements with tremendous section and solo playing gave my musical education a new dimension. To hear soloists such as Bill Perkins, Lennie Niehaus, Carl Fontana, a five man trumpet section who all blew with ear splitting power and a powerful rhythm section lead by Mel Lewis left me with renewed enthusiasm to seek more of Stan's music other than my then solitary LP, 'Kenton in Hi-Fi'. 'Cuban Fire’, Kenton, and Showcase soon followed.

Since I have been luck to buy most of Stan's recorded music and never fail to be disappointed with ANY of his music. Integrity and professionalism of Stan always has been an example to thousands of big band admirers throughout the world. That is why we are still as avidly listening to his music in 2004.

Several student friends and I had bought our tickets as soon as the tour was announced but I had been luck also to win a competition in a National Newspaper for two tickets, which gave me a better seat in the 7,000-seat hall. The sounds of that evening still resonate in my head.

Joe Coccia

How could I forget Stan Kenton? He was one of my best friends, my mentor, my big brother, my musical inspiration, motivator, teacher, confidant, etc. There is so much to remember about Stan - not only his music but also his total personality, his charisma. It is too difficult to single out some significant reflections about my relationship with Stan because there is so much to remember about him. Those memories will always remain part of my yesterdays. However, I will recount a couple of incidents, which took place near the end of Stan's life that are still vividly before me.

This incident took place shortly after Stan's return to the road with the Band after his accident in Pa. Frank DiOrio had booked the band into the Holiday Inn outside of Boston. Rose and I went there so see Stan and hear the Band. When we arrived, Frank advised us that he and Stan were going out to dinner and not to be disappointed if Stan did not recognize us. When Stan got off the elevator to join Frank, he spotted Rose and I and with outstretched arms shouted, "Rose!”, "Joe!”. Of course, Rose and I were delighted that he recognized us immediately but we were saddened when we noticed that he shuffled across the room to embrace us. His equilibrium problem was one result of the accident. He invited us to have dinner with he and Frank but Rose and I graciously excused ourselves from the invitation because we did not want to cut in on Frank's time with Stan. Before he left for dinner, Stan said he wanted to talk to Rose and I privately and he asked Frank to arrange for a place where we could sit and chat. Frank secured the manager's office for Stan and we did have a chance to catch up on things. He told us all about his accident; he informed us that Lance (his son) had married a "lovely Italian girl" and he seemed ecstatic about that. He then left with Frank for dinner and when he returned, we sat at a table near the bandstand, chatting. A young man approached Stan and asked him to play SEND IN THE CLOWNS when the band started to play. Stan replied that he did not have a chart in the book on that tune. However, when Stan did start playing, the first tune he played was SEND IN THE CLOWNS. We noticed that Stan had a problem with his recollection and this was another example of the result of his accident. Later, the band was to play BODY AND SOUL but instead Stan started playing STARDUST. In talking to some of the band members, they said this was a common occurrence and that Stan's recollection had been affected because of the accident. That night, when I returned home, I called Audree, suggested she cancel the rest of his tour, and get him off the road and home because I felt Stan's fans should not see him under those conditions. Shortly thereafter, Audree did just that and Rose and I were relieved knowing that he would be home having more time to recuperate.

My next recollection took place a few weeks before Stan's death.

In early August of 1979, Rose and I had attended a conference in Lake Tahoe after which we planned to drive to LA to see Stan. On the time and date scheduled for us to meet, we arrived at the office and were greeted by Audree. We chatted for a while and then she informed us that Stan would not be meeting with us since he did not want us to see him in his present condition - she said something about not shaven and not up to coming in to the office. Naturally, we were disappointed. However, she said that she had arranged with Stan that he would talk to us on the phone. They had devised some sort of code so that Stan would know it was Audree calling. I believe Audree was to let the phone ring at home a certain number of times and then hang up. The plan worked and Stan did call the office and I talked to him. He was very apologetic for not coming to see us and his voice seemed very weak. He then talked to Rose and apologized to her and she assured him that she understood and that we would get to see him the next time around. However, he prophetically responded that he did not think so and that ended our last visit with Stan. We left LA and later returned home. A couple of weeks later Stan passed away and we always think that Stan was probably in poor health and did not want us to see him during his final days. We will always remember him as the tall young, exciting bandleader I met in 1943 throughout the years of my affiliation with him to the end.

Bob Curnow

The "Stan" I remember was the man who, although an idol to me, approached me as an 18 year old kid (1960) and told me that he would like to have me play in his band someday...... just like that! He was the man who, at a very important point in my life and musical development, validated me, frankly, for the rest of my life. He was the man who most reminded me of my own father. I'm not sure my Dad ever realized how similar they were to each other....honest, caring, encouraging, humorous, funny as hell, stern when necessary and very forgiving. I know there was a bit of love mixed in there as well with Stan.

Now, on the surface, none of these traits is required to be a famous, innovative jazz musician. In fact, most jazz musicians of that time (starting in the 30's) had anything BUT those kinds of concerns for other people, let alone youngsters who were learning their art and craft. They were generally all wrapped up in themselves and their own needs.

Stan always had a way of reaching out to me (and, of course, many people) and made me feel good and important. What a gift! Most people who worked for Stan felt/feel that connection. Certainly, there have been people who have had bad feelings about Stan, but I would bet that Stan did usually not create the problem, whatever it was.

Surely, he was no saint. He had his negative characteristics, self-destruction being the worst of them.

After playing in his band for a year (1963), writing a lot of music, which was recorded by the band (1972-76), producing 30+ albums for/with him (1973-76), managing his record company, and generally being around him in a whole lot of different situations over some 15 years or so, I never saw Stan lose his temper. I never saw him turn a deaf ear to a new idea. I never had a problem talking with him about any concerns I had...business or personal. And I never have a day go by that I do not think of him in some way...just like my Dad.

THAT is the thing I remember and cherish most about Stan.

Roy Des Ruisseaux

While I was in New York, I became aware that the Kenton Band was going to appear at the Newport Jazz Festival. I was able to persuade my father to send me a little extra cash so I could attend. I made room reservations and got the tickets and on the morning of July 4, 1963, I got on a bus for Newport. I arrived and checked into a small hotel (sans the wishing well). As evening approached, I headed over to Freebody Park a few short blocks away. The evening was warm and there seemed to be electricity in the air. I entered the park and took it all in. Wow! Here I was a somewhat naive suburban white boy at the mother of all jazz festivals. I found my seat and waited for the event to begin. As I recall the great French pianist, Martial Solal led off the festival. The Cannonball Adderley Quintet gave one of the outstanding sets that evening.

Nina Simone was the last act before the Kenton Band came on. By this time, I had wandered down toward the "snow fence" which separated the "proles" from the press & VIPs. I remember a young black girl standing not too far away shouting "go girl " and "sing it sister " I actually had the thought (Gee I wonder it that's really her sister ?) -- kind of glad I did not ask. At last, it was time for the Kenton Band. They seemed to be in great form and the sound system seemed to be just right. George Wein had been riding heard on the soundman earlier in the evening.

After a few numbers, Stan came to the mike and announced that George Wein had flown Charlie Mariano in from Japan so he could perform with the band. Charlie came out and when he was about 10 feet from the old man he stopped and bowed to him in the Asian manner as a sign of respect. Mariano played “My Funny Valentine” and “Stompin' at the Savoy.” When he finished there was a buzz in the crowd and Cannonball Adderley came onto the stage. Stan called up Gabe Baltazar from his sax section. Kenton stood there with one arm around Adderley's shoulder and the other around Mariano's. I seem to remember him saying something like we're "going to have a three way conversation with the blues" as he was heading back toward the piano he said "don't anybody start I have a short intro to play" (I have since purchased the recording of this event and neither of these quotes are on it so I have either imagined them over the years or they were edited from the tape…take your pick). After they finished Jean Turner came out and sang a few songs followed by a rousing version of “Malaguena.” Then it was over. The next three days flew by with an enormous amount of fantastic music and great weather. This was by far the finest four days of music I have ever experienced. While the quality of these photos leaves something to be desired I feel the historic interest justifies posting them.

Mary Fettig

My introduction to Stan Kenton was through my high school music teacher, Bill Burke. He was a big fan of Stan Kenton and we were fortunate to have the kind of high school jazz band that could play some of Stan’s music. This made us all fans of the band. My teacher took me one-step further in securing a scholarship for me to attend the Kenton camp at the University of Redlands. This forever changed me.

The camp was a jazz intensive, and we could not get enough of it. There were many great teachers involved in the camp, in and out of the Kenton band. The most exciting part of the day was the evening concert presented by the Kenton band. Such power, such fun music -- we were in heaven.

So how did I end up in his band? It was certainly a long shot, since there had never been another female band member. Even though I was playing lead alto in the top student band, it did not occur to me that this was a possibility. I would liken this to entertaining thoughts of playing quarterback for the SF 49ers.

Stan was very committed to jazz education, and at the end of the camp, the band would read newly published music for educators to hear. The typical big band sax section has two altos, two tenors, and one baritone. Stan had one alto, two tenors, and two baritones. I was asked to sit in with the Kenton band for a reading session. This was quite a thrill, and again it did not occur to me to think of the possibility of being a band member.

I went to college at UCLA at a time when one could get into Disneyland for a couple of dollars (remember E tickets?). They had performances by many jazz groups, and I went with a friend to see the Kenton band. When I went up to Stan to say hi, he told me he would been looking for me, and wanted me to join the band. Yes, dreams come true at Disneyland. I screamed out the window the whole way home -- what more could I have hoped for?

Stan took my phone number and said he would call me the next day to talk about arrangements. Later that night Stan had a medical emergency that entailed emergency surgery to save his life. All the next day I waited by the phone for him to call (pre-answering machines, pre-cell phones). He finally called from intensive care, saying that we would have to put things on hold.

In fact, it was a year later before I joined the band. When he called, I was able to convince him to postpone my start by 2 weeks so that I could finish my final exams at UCLA. I joined the band in Chicago, and was thrust into a world for which I was unprepared. Because I was the first woman in the band, I found myself having to entertain media interviews constantly. I just wanted to play my sax.

My stay with the band was an experience one could not buy -- the thrill of the music, the long days on the bus, the travel to places I had never been. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Stan Kenton Orchestra!

Peter Erskine

When I think of Stan, the first image that pops into my brain might be of him standing in front of the band with his arms stretched wide; or it might be of him riding on one of the countless bus trips that constituted the bulk of his days; or it might be a warmer and more diffuse sort of impression, the kind you get when the sound of music envelopes your senses ... and the Kenton sound could certainly do that!

To be honest, even though I love the writing that Bill Holman, Lennie Niehaus and Hank Levy did for the band, it's usually the Johnny Richards charts that form the strongest impression in me when "I Remember Stan Kenton." Perhaps this is because, in Richards' writing, there was always an unmistakable sense of longing and searching ... whether expressed by a tender melody or by a screaming brass section ... Johnny's music reaches out to me across time and distance as the most "noble" of big band (or "organized") music. I'm not making a comparison between Stan's band and any other big band ... I'm just providing a little bit of my own visceral reaction to these oh-so-powerful moments in music. Johnny's music dared, I think, to ask the unknowable. And while people often Stan's band or sound to that of Wagner, I get more of a Mahler "thing" from it ... and this is no way to talk about the Woody Herman or Basie bands! Yet, that's what made Stan's musical universe so special ... it went to some place where other bandleaders did not care or dare to go.

In addition, while the Holman charts are still the most fun to play, I think that "Cuban Fire" gets the most "airplay" of the Kenton albums on my iPod...!

I also remember Stan every time I hear a new, hot young talent on the scene. Thanks to Stan and so many others who took part in the jazz-education-in-schools-crusade, we have better-trained and more-informed musicians coming along than ever before. And even though Kenton music might not be as in vogue as it once was in school jazz bands' libraries, the fact that there even ARE school jazz band libraries owes much to Stan's fierce dedication to jazz education.

You know what? I am smiling right now, remembering Stan Kenton.

Howard Hedges

Even though there were quite a few GREAT things that happened when I was out with the '78 Orchestra, I do not know if anything really surpasses the first time I heard the Band.

As a junior at Pompano Beach High School in 1972, my band director (a former student of Hank Levy's) brought the band in for a clinic/concert. We had been playing some of Stan and Hank's Charts and were looking forward to hearing what we had only heard on vinyl.

All of us from the HS Jazz Band staked out the front row. I was totally unprepared for the aural onslaught I was about to experience.

The Band was set-up in the "B-17" configuration, which presented one helluva visual. Next The Old Man came out and seemed bigger than any man I had ever seen. Before saying a word, Stan turned to Peter (Erskine) and pointed to "The Eliminator." Peter's roll on the cymbal crescendoed through the dBs of an F-16. Next, Stan makes eye contact with the Bari Saxes, Bass Trombones, and John Worster for the downbeat of the "Low F"......IT'S MALAGUENA! Here comes the rest of the Brass Section and the Saxes. The whole tune was a massive sensory overload; section parts, solos, rhythm section licks, more solos, and then the end. Stan gives the last note with arms outstretched, turns to the audience (the Band is still holding the last note) and all I see are teeth, and he turns back to the Band and gives the cutoff.

After having my ears pinned back by “Malaguena” I planted the seed deep inside myself that somehow, someway, I WOULD BE associated with and perhaps become a member of the Trombone Section of the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Then came the call from Stan in November of 1977.

Gary Hobbs

I loved the Kenton bands that featured John Von Ohlen and Peter Erskine. While attending the 1971 Kenton Camp at Drury College I first heard John kicking the band with that 25" ride cymbal and very individual time patterns and, partly because he suggested it, I decided to make music my life’s work.

Between then and 1975, when I joined the band, I listed to and memorized most all of the music recorded by the band. When a drummer plays along with recordings, he learns so much about those with whom he is playing. Not just the drummers but also the entire band. I enjoyed those bands very much.

My time on the band was spent with many different musicians as many changes occurred during my 2 1/2 years. There were a few weak chairs in the band, at times, as there were with most bands but I feel all of the sections I played with were great.

Tim Hagans was on the jazz trumpet chair when I joined and Clay Jenkins took Tim's spot when he left. But all the guys could solo in that section. Steve Campos played third and screech but also played very tasty and soulful jazz. Jay Sollenberger, Jim Oates and John Harner filled out that trumpet section and I thought that was a KILLING section.

When John left the band, Jay took over the lead chair and the band had his mark on it. Sounded wonderful! The trumpet section was strong most of the time I was there.

The bones were led by Dickus and had so much power it was hard to believe when I first joined. Dave Keim, Lloyd Spoon and Jeff Usitalo played the jazz chair during my years and, although their styles were very different, I think they were and are fine players. We always had strong bass bone players and the section was very consistent.

The sax section was the section that had to deal with the most changes and there were times when it seemed out of sorts and the jazz playing was spotty. That is all I will say about the saxes, not wanting to anger anyone.

Ramon Lopez was there when I first heard the band and there all the way through my tenure. The relationship between bass and drums is a very sensitive and at times conflict occurs. John Worster and I did not see eye to eye and those gigs were difficult at times. He and I have made up and are friends and both of us take credit for the friction. Mike Ross was playing when I joined and I loved his playing and he was so helpful to me on those first gigs. Dave Stone is a god. I think he is one of the greatest bass players ever.

We played the same music on many nights but also mixed it up a bit too. Stan wanted the drummer to take chances and change it up a little night to night even when playing the same program night after night. It made me create. What a deal. 48 weeks a year of drumming in a great big band where the leader says try whatever you want.

Steve Campos played a VCR tape of three of the 70's band in concert -- one with John, one with Peter and one with me. I can honestly say that, with the exception of the drummer, I liked my band the best. But hey, I am only a drummer.

Thomas Jacobson

In 1970s, here in Eugene, Oregon, I was lucky enough to see Stan and the band perform. One of the highlights of my life! At the first break, the band took off and did what they do during the break. Stan, however, stayed seated at the piano. All alone! I approached him, and asked, “Could I talk to you for a moment?” Stan replied, “please come on up let’s talk, OK?” I went up to Stan sitting on the piano bench, and he said, “Why don’t you sit down here with me?” I said, “You bet.” Stan asked me my name and where I lived and what work I did. Of course, I told him everything I could, I was nervous, sitting on the bench with Stan not more than a foot away from him. This was a time that he was quite ill, and did not look like himself. We continued and he asked me, “What brings you to the concert?” Well, I told him I had been an avid fan of his for 30 years, going back to 1945 when I was in the Navy on an aircraft carrier of Okinawa in March of 1945. I told him I had heard a broadcast over Armed Forces Radio from the Hollywood Palladium, and how impressed/thrilled I was to hear such powerful music. Then he went on to ask me all kinds of questions, when it was I who was trying to ask him. Finally, I got to ask him how he was feeling and he was weathering the “road?” He said, “Tommy (I had introduced myself as Tom Jacobson) this is my life, and I am getting along fine (when I could see he wasn’t).” Then we covered all kinds of subjects, we laughed at some of the funny stories we shared. Then as the band came back on the stage, Stan said, “Tommy, it has been such fund talking to you, I hope we get the chance again, but now I must get back to work.” We parted and I went back to my seat, hands shaking, and told my friends what a great thrill the last half an hour had been. They were green with envy, seeing that they did not have the courage to do what I had done, to be able to be one-on-one with Stan Kenton for over an hour.

Joel Kaye

I have been thinking about this and can say that trying to put in a few short sentences what I remember about Stan is very difficult. There is so much, it is daunting. I do remember the things he taught us by example: People were more important than just music..........he wouldn't fire someone just because he wasn't the best player available, he wanted someone who got into the band to have a good chance of developing into a much better player. Some people just took a little longer & he could wait. He did not judge music too quickly; either...he wanted to give it a chance too. I remember his smile at the end of a tune when he seemed to be able to reach both ends of the Sax section. How he savored that sound. How humble he was when he had Ray Starling featured at the piano while he looked on and beamed. I remember all the times I saw the band after I was no longer a part of it...how Stan encouraged me to press on with my own band, and had me "sit in" with the current one. See...so many things to fit in a short space. Well there you have some of them!

Bill Lee

I do not really have anything further to furnish on Stan. I recall seeing the 'Ray Wetzel' Kenton band in 1945. I was a 16-year-old at North Texas State and Stan's band came to Ft. Worth. Several of us drove down from Denton and were completely blown away. Ray, Mr. 5 by 5, was playing first trumpet. He was a marvelous lead trumpet player but played totally incorrectly according to the trumpet teacher we had at the time. Ray played with a lot of pressure and on the side of his mouth. He was the original Mr. 5X5. The band was magnificent. In 1950, I played 91 one-nighters on the Gene Krupa band. As we traveled across the country, we stayed in the same hotel at the Kenton Band two or three times. I met Kenton then and he was always very cordial. In 1969, I produced a "History of Jazz" presentation at the Miami Beach Fontainbleau Hotel with the University of Miami Jazz Band, Jazz Singers and an 8-piece percussion ensemble. We used eight screens for projecting pictures and I hired Stand to do the narration. This was in conjunction with a convention of the American Psychiatric Association - 11,000 head shrinkers. Stan was magnificent!

I am currently writing the history of NAJE-IAJE. Among the many quotes are two with regard to Kenton's assistance in getting the Association started.

Bob Montgomery: . . . "There were several hours of discussion, mostly on financing and organization. At the very end, I remember Stan Kenton standing up, leaning over the table, pounding his fist on the table saying: 'This has to be done, it is too important not to be done.' With that he donated $500 out of his pocket to help initial mailing and office expenses."

Another excerpt from the book; "The only full time 'name' bandleader who fully supported and assisted in the formation of the new organization (NAJE) was Stan Kenton. Dr. Gene Hall put it this way: 'Stan is the only pro who put his money where his mouth is. I have seen him lay money on the line from his pocket quietly to get things going. He is highly respected by everyone in jazz education; he will take the time and his resources to help. He says what he believes and backs it up, whereas most of us might hedge. Whatever anyone thinks of his music, and he's had good bands and bad bands like all of us, you've got to give him credit for his unusual sense of integrity.'"

Robert J. Robbins

My fondest remembrance of Stan Kenton is visiting the Creative World office in Beverly Hills on my first trip to California in 1977. Just two weeks before my twenty-fourth birthday, I had just arrived at LAX, and I was trying to negotiate my way around the maze of freeways and streets. Some invisible force guided me east on the Santa Monica Freeway toward LaCienega Blvd., and the next thing I knew, I was parking outside of 1012 S. Robertson Blvd. Audree answered the door, and then I heard that distinctive, tobacco-and-vodka-seasoned bass voice welcome me! Soon I was sitting opposite Stan in his office, and I presented him with a cassette of the West Chester University (then State College) Criterions performing Kenton's Christmas arrangements (with alto horns in lieu of mellophoniums). He thanked me profusely for these, and then he presented me with a copy of his latest "Journey to Capricorn" LP. This would be the last time that I would meet Stan directly, for he suffered his fall four months later. However, I will always cherish this memory.

Nancy Simonian

I went to see the Stan Kenton Orchestra when they were appearing at the Hollywood Bowl sometime in the early 1950's. The bowl was packed with overenthusiastic fans. When Stan came to the close of the concert and played his last tune, the crowd cheered until the orchestra played an encore. Then someone in the crowd stood up and yelled at the top of his voice, let's have one more, Stan! Stan Kenton then faced the orchestra and raised his hands gesturing the leading of a tune, and the musicians faked playing but not a sound was heard!

Michael Sparke

I would surmise that those who knew Stan Kenton fell into three different categories, though of course there would be crossovers. Firstly, the more zealous fans who struck up an acquaintance with Stan; next, those whom Stan employed, principally but not exclusively his musicians; and lastly, close friends and family. I am sure each grouping experienced a different side of the Kenton persona, and I can only speak as a fan.

Most celebrities regard fans as unavoidable. I first became aware of how seriously Stan regarded his more ardent admirers in 1963, when somehow I blagged an invitation to the reception given by EMI to welcome Kenton on his second tour of the UK. Pete Venudor had asked me to let Stan know when he hoped they might meet, and instead of the polite acceptance I had expected, Stan was clearly deeply interested and pleased at the prospect. About the only other aspect of that party, I can recall is that Jean Turner was present — and what a charmer she was!

During the 1960s, Stan replied personally to my many letters asking for details of arrangers and soloists on his recordings, as Venudor and me slowly built up our awareness of the Stan Kenton Orchestra’s history. It is common knowledge that Stan’s interest always lay in the present, not the past, and in all honesty, I would have to say that his memory that was so exhaustive in recalling the names of people he met, did not always extend to details of his music. However, Stan respected anyone who displayed an honest interest in his career, and showed his appreciation by responding with an enthusiasm, which far exceeded that of any other megastar I could name.

In the 1970s, the band came to Britain no fewer than five times and it was during these visits that I met Stan at length face-to-face, and formed such a deep impression of a thoughtful, caring person. I hung around Stan and the band a lot, and was privileged to talk with him in many situations — backstage, at hotels, during meals, even interviews in his room — I was always struck by the warmth and friendship he showed towards someone who was no more than a fan — albeit, a fervid fan!

Distressing was the fact that each visit to England presented a Kenton who was visibly weaker and frailer than before, culminating in the 1976 trip which came at the close of a long and exhausting tour of continental Europe. I was lucky enough to attend the filming of the BBC-TV program “Omnibus” at the Ealing Studios on 4 October 1976, a tiring experience for all the musicians, extending as it did over six hours under the hot lights and the cameras’ unblinking eyes.

During the many halts in filming for technical reasons, Stan remained seated at the piano, conserving his energy for the next number. Occasionally he improvised on popular tunes, but mostly he sat alone, apparently lost in private thoughts. No band members approached him, though at one point during the filming of “Reflections,” a piano-tuner was called in because the pedals were slightly noisy on the sound track. “It’s probably my joints,” cracked Stan, as the tuner fiddled around his feet.

By five o’clock PM, Stan appeared totally fatiqued, slumped at the piano -- a dejected figure. Then, as the booth signaled the final OK, his daughter Leslie and two grandchildren emerged. The effect was magical. Stan’s eyes became alive, his whole form was animated, he grew six inches taller, and placing his arms round his family, without any goodbyes or even a backward glance, he positively strode out of the studio, a man reborn. Whatever the norm, music was not the most important item in his life that particular day!

That is the picture that I shall retain of Stan in my mind — strong, purposeful, in-charge, and like so many, my memories will forever reverberate through the recordings that we are so fortunate to enjoy in today’s resonant audio. Others may prefer the work of Woody, or Glenn, or Duke — glorious all! But for Stan’s fans, nothing can compare with the music of the “Kenton Sound” — now that is MUSIC!

Marvin Stamm

My memories of Stan Kenton are myriad. They are of a warm and generous man on the personal side and of a dedicated, passionate musician on the musical one. The two years I spent on the band were significant to my growth as an individual and to my musical career, and Stan played a major part as a mentor, father figure and teacher. On tour together for months at a time, he was omni-present during that period of my life. First, maybe I should give a brief history of my time with the band.

I first became fully acquainted with Stan during the summer following the North Texas Lab Band’s winning the 1960 Notre Dame Jazz Festival. We were invited to come to the Kenton Clinics at Indiana University in August and serve as his band there; at that time, Stan did not bring his own band to the clinics. During that week, we rehearsed with him every day, performing one or two concerts at the Clinics. He had an excellent opportunity to observe each of us in a realistic playing situation and asked me to join the band that fall as his trumpet soloist. I told him that I had one more year of school to finish, and he agreed that I should do this, but also let me know that we would work together in the future.

Several months later, Stan called to ask if I could obtain a leave of absence from school for about three and a half weeks to finish out that fall’s tour for Sam Noto who was leaving to take a steady job in New York. Having almost all of my scholastic studies done by then, I got approval from all my professors to go. After finishing that tour in early December, Stan told me that the band would re-form the following April (1961) and that he intended to hire someone to temporarily play the Jazz trumpet chair until I graduated in May.

After graduating from the University of North Texas in May 1961, I joined Stan’s orchestra as his Jazz trumpet soloist, beginning my documented professional career. During my two years with the band, we toured extensively in the U. S. and Canada, mostly playing one-niters. Very important to my career was the fact that during this period, the band recorded five albums on which I was a featured soloist. These albums were entitled; “Adventures In Jazz,” “The Sophisticated Approach,” “Adventures In Time,” “Adventures In Blues,” and the last, released after I left the orchestra I believe, was entitled “Stage Door Swings.” These recordings and the extensive touring of the band gave me a good bit of exposure and national recognition for which I am extremely grateful.

Working for Stan Kenton was a great experience. Stan was a special person - gracious, and kind, dedicated to his music and quite strong in his views - he was a true mentor and role model for the guys in the band. He was especially inspiring to a young musician like me. Stan was also an incredibly caring person, and, in my case, always willing to help me work through problems that I might be having. Being a young musician, spending most of my time on the road, I was trying to get handle on many complex issues with which I was dealing at the time, and I knew I could go to Stan to talk about these things when I needed. Other guys in the band also sought Stan’s help and advice with situations with which they were confronted. Stan always seemed to be there for us.

Certainly important at the time was when I had just joined the band and was trying to decide whether to get married. I was in turmoil and went to him several times, seeking his advice. Yet, with all that he was dealing with, he was never impatient about discussing this important issue with me. Of course, like my own parents, he felt this was not the thing to do, especially at that time in my life and career. Naturally, I went against their counsel, and, of course, in the near future, they would prove to be correct. However, Stan never reproached me for not adhering to the wisdom of his advice.

Stan remained steadfast in his support of me - and of the other members of the orchestra as well. It was not only the young guys for whom he was there. Several of the older band members who had been there for a while had their share of troubles too, though they might be more adept in handling them. Nevertheless, they would at times go to Stan for advice and, sometimes, financial help. As far as I knew, Stan never turned his back on any of us. He felt that the band was his family, and he was “the old man,” the patriarch. In addition, as such, he was there for us in so many ways.

A great example of Stan’s generous spirit was when I underwent an embouchure change while on the band. At the time, I was playing low down on my top lip, that is, onto the red tissue of the lip. Because the band played so hard and loud most times, this caused me to cut my lip. With the help of John Haynie, my trumpet teacher from the University of North Texas, I moved the mouthpiece up a good bit on the top lip, providing more vibrating surface for playing and more muscle tissue - more “meat” - for the mouthpiece to rest upon. This was quite a drastic move for me and took a long time to adjust to, causing me a great deal of stress. I seemed to be fine going up to the microphone to play my solos, but a good bit of the section work was difficult because I played most of the higher second trumpet parts. Having to deal with the embouchure change was extremely frustrating and caused me to feel depressed about how I was performing my job. Stan sensed this in me and would come back to the trumpet section at various times, telling me to be patient. He said my working through all this was fine with him, just to concentrate on my soloing and the section playing would come along in time. I can’t believe many other band leaders would have the patience to go along with this, but during this whole period of adjustment, Stan remained very patient and encouraging to me, once again showing how much concern and care he had for the people who played in his band.

Some of the great musical memories I have of Stan were seeing this giant of a man standing in front of us holding his arms outstretched before cutting off that last chord. It was a remarkable sight! Stan was truly larger than life. Observing him when rehearsing new charts with his arrangers or in the recording studio doing a new album was another great experience. Stan had great musical instincts and knew just how to edit an arrangement or composition so that it best fit the format that exhibited the band or the soloists. In addition, his own ballad writing was just lovely, a perfect fit for the Mellophonium Band of which I was part.

Stan was also a great PR person; he knew how to talk with people while still expressing his very strong views. He seemed to be able to make people feel comfortable even while disagreeing with their point of view. He was always ready to do an interview or go on someone’s radio show to publicize the band. He seemed to have limitless reservoir of energy, even at the end of a long day that concluded with a four-hour gig. Observing Stan dealing with all these various entities day after day was a real education in human relations. He was really something!

I left the band in January of 1963 because I felt very strongly that I needed to take care of my marital problems. My hope was to resolve these issues and return to the band, but for various reasons, this never materialized. Instead, I spent a couple of years working in show bands in Reno, NV and in 1965 joined Woody’s band for a year before going to New York where I became established in the Jazz and studio scene. I have remained in the New York area ever since and nowadays spend six or more months a year touring as a Jazz soloist with my own groups and performing as guest artist with various other groups.

Because of being involved with my own busy career, I did not follow the band closely after I left and saw Stan only fleetingly a couple of times, both in New York. I always hoped to have time to sit down with him and talk about the many things that had transpired since I left the band and to reconnect with a person who was and is so important in my life. Unfortunately, this did not occur, and I felt I never had the chance to let him know how much I appreciated all the he did for me, all that he enabled me to do.

The experience of playing on Stan’s band was also invaluable because you had to be at the top of your form every night in spite of being weary, at times being ill, playing where acoustics were less than perfect, having tired or hurt “chops,” and being always on the move. This instilled the concept that when it was time to perform, it didn’t matter how you felt…you were expected to be at your best at all times under all sorts of conditions, and the one who must have the highest expectations of you had to be you!

I want to emphasize how important I feel my time on the Kenton band was to my musical life. A great experience gave me a clearer view of life and of “life on the road.” I also met many people who contributed much to my growth and life experience, some who have become life-long friends. Moreover, of course, I received a great deal of solo exposure, which gave me national attention and led to many other opportunities over my long career in music.

All these things and more I learned while being with Stan. As important as any of these were the human lessons I learned from him, the things I have carried with me all my life since that time. And these are the best memories of all.

Mike Suter

Stan did not understand the non-sequitur. On the other hand, I live by them. So it is no wonder that I was the target of many Kenton glares and Shearer talks (“Mike, you gotta stop doin’ that!”) over the years.

As we traveled through New York State to Niagara Falls on our way to a concert in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, there was a lively discussion in the front of the bus about jazz improvisation. With all the great soloists, we had at that time the conversation was fascinating: Where do ideas come from? To whom do you listen? Where do you source your ideas? Things like that. Later on as we were waiting in line to cross the border Stan absently, wondered why three…birds keep singing the same song repeatedly—never changing a note. I told him is that all they hear? There was a 10 or 15 second wait as my answer, and its obvious relationship to the earlier improv discussion, sunk in. Stan turned in his seat to stare at me. Later on, I received a Shearer talk. As an aside, after the concert that night Greg Sorcsek and I were laughing about the episode. He said (remember where we were). All I could think of was the Abbot and Costello bit. Slowly I turned. But, of course, I had the sense to keep my mouth shut. Ah, yes he did. But I had more fun.

We were booked into a clinic/concert at a community college in Flint, Michigan (my old stomping grounds). The leader of the jazz band - a friend of mine - was very enthusiastic, a true lover of big band jazz, Stan Kenton in particular. His only real fault was a certain lack of taste in sport coats. He wore plaid ones. Not just plaid, but PLAID! Plaid enough that a golfer would not wear some of his patterns on their pants! Knowing this, as we were driving to the gig I started talking about Scotland, and tartans, and flannel work shirts, and the little short skirts so popular with coeds at the time - anything dealing with that ancient colorful basket weave pattern. Stan thought I had gone crazy - you could see it in his eyes - but he let me ramble on. As we pulled up to the school I ended my little discourse with something like . . . but we shouldn’t ever, EVER, laugh at people wearing plaid clothing because they’re fragile, sensitive, caring folks...and my gamble paid off.

Because at that very moment my friend came bounding out the door of the music building clad in the most garish red-yellow-blue-black-green sports jacket you have ever seen. Seemingly, within milliseconds Stan was up, out of his area, down the aisle, and locked in the toilet at the back of the bus. He even had time to call me a very nasty name as he passed by. Shearer could barely contain himself, but made apologies - claiming that Stan was coming in a separate car, and would be there in time. Sure enough, 15 minutes later Stan came walking in and we started our clinic presentation. Everything went as usual, but I swear Stan did not look our host in the eye - not even once -the entire time we were there. That night Stan introduced me as a Michigan resident (which I then was) and said I would be playing my solo feature for them. But instead of my usual ”Tenderly” he started playing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” What that tune had to do with plaid, I do not know. I guess it was the best he could do off the top of his head. I was lucky. It is an easy melody. If he would have asked Shearer for a tune I am sure there would have been blood on the stage - mine!

As we passed through Kansas one day the talk centered on whales. Somebody pointed out that the goo scraped off the inside of whale stomachs was used to make perfume. I called it "whale barf" but added that its scientific name was ambergris. Well, since I had provided it Stan was not going to accept my "whale barf" story without proof. So we turned the bus around (we had just pulled out of town after our lunch stop), went to a bookstore, and bought a dictionary. Sure enough, there it was for the entire world (or at least the bus) to see: “am-ber-gris: a morbid secretion of the sperm whale intestine, an opaque, ash-colored substance which is fragrant when heated, usually found floating on the ocean or cast ashore: used in perfumery.”

Stan grunted something unintelligible, and tossed the brand new treasury of words in the trash. I counted to fifty and asked, “Would it make you vomit to admit that I was right?” He stared at me for a full five minutes. This was perhaps my crowning moment on the band!

Mike Vax

Stan Kenton was a grandiose person, both in stature and in the aura that he exuded to everyone who came in contact with him. He could enter a room full of people and even the ones who did not know him by sight would turn their heads to see this impressive man and wonder about him. He was the greatest leader of people that I have ever known. I truly believe that, if he had been a politician, he would have become President of the United States. He had that “something” that made you believe in what he believed. We are so lucky that he chose to become a big band leader and jazz educator. He changed the face of jazz and big band music, as well as becoming the Father of jazz education. It was his vision that helped create what is now the International Association for Jazz Education and his lead that convinced other bandleaders to go into schools to create a whole new audience for big band music.

He changed my life completely in 1960 when I went to the 2nd National Stage Band Camp. I got to play in the faculty band (at 17 years old) and at the end of those two weeks, I knew that I wanted to play on his band not become a classical player as I had intended originally. At the end of the camp, I told him that I was going to play first trumpet on his band someday and his answer was so typically “Kenton.” He said, “If you want to bad enough, you probably will.” For Stan Kenton to say that to me at that young age was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I told him about that incident 10 years later when I had taken over the lead trumpet chair, and he REMEMBERED our conversation from the camps. (Although, he hadn't realized that I was that skinny, short little guy that had talked to him back in 1960.) He seemed amazed that his words had meant so much to me.

On the bus, he was a playful and overseeing “road father.” He loved to go to the back of the bus, start some sort of political or ideological argument and then come back up to the front and watch his handiwork. If anyone had a problem, he could sit and talk with him and he listened intently and many times gave fatherly advice. I really believe that in some ways, his frustration and unhappiness with his own family life, was eased by his relationship with the musicians in his band.

On the bandstand, he was a caring, but forceful leader who wanted perfection and did not except excuses. The music had to be right, no matter what! He knew when his musicians were ready for the “next step” in their performance with the band, even before they did. He knew when a jazz player was ready to be a featured soloist, or a section player was ready to become a lead player. I am a perfect example of that. He made me the lead trumpet player out of the blue, when I had no inkling that he was going to place me in that most responsible position. I am happy to say that I lived up to his expectations. Then he would not have put me there unless HE knew I was ready.

I will always cherish my time with Stan as one of the best and most important periods in my life. He influenced everything I have done musically and educationally in all these years since his passing. I think of him almost every day in one way or another.

John Van Egmond

I remember Stan from way back in August of 1953 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. To be precise: it was Sunday evening, August 30. My friend and I were late buying tickets and we ended up sitting on chairs in the back of the podium, behind the band, facing Stan. At one point Stan addressed us, the folks in the back, and he said he really appreciated us being there and to show it he had the band turn around and had them play just for us, the folks in the back of the band. That 1953 band was incredible good and we went wild. June Christy was there and sang, among others, “Something Cool.” I still have the original program of that day with a listing of the band's personnel. Just in the reed section: Lee Konitz, Zoot Sims, Bill Holman, Don Carone and Anthony Ferina (baritone). Stan was directing most of the time, and Joseph Galbraith played the piano.

Jiggs Whigham

I feel as though I have been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity not only to play with Stan but to know him also as a friend. He was truly an icon. The physical size of his body reflected the enormity of his strength as a creative artist and his loving and giving spirit. All of us who were lucky enough to be in his presence certainly had to be affected by his warmth, charm, and yes - as a leader! In fact, being a leader was one of the things that Stan asked us all to become - perhaps not only a bandleader but also a leader of people in an attempt to affect our society and world. He, himself had an uncanny way of influencing all of us in the band. imagine traveling on a bus for hours and hours and days and days on end not really having the opportunity to relax in the comfort of home (let alone a decent hotel room), having to get off the bus without eating a warm meal (dinner? what dinner?!), then having to play extremely difficult and physically demanding music, written by the likes of Johnny Richards, Willis Holman, Dee Barton, and others. By the way, the music could not just be 'played' - it had to sound like the world famous Stan Kenton orchestra! In any case, because of our love and respect for him and his music, there was never an option to slack off - the music was too good and too strong - and Stan himself was too good and strong. With just a glance and perhaps the occasional grunt, Stan instilled us with great confidence and pride. His conviction and confidence not only in the music but also in all of us was amazing.

It must be mentioned at this point that Stan was also a man of great humor who loved to laugh, often at his own expense! I recall two of the funny things...once, during a concert in Chicago, I went to the piano and proceeded to do a silly imitation of Stan playing the introduction to the theme, 'artistry in rhythm'. I had no idea how he would take it. At first, he sort of glared at me, then broke into a smile, and then could not contain himself from laughing. This, in turn started the band laughing and then the audience joined in. It was a truly hilarious and wonderful moment!

One more...we would often play at elks clubs and the like in the Midwest. Lennie Niehaus had written a 'dance book' and the arrangements were fun to play. Of course, we would also play some of Stan’s own arrangements ('street of dreams', 'I’m glad there's you', etc.), which often began with the five trombones, bass, and drums. Once in awhile, 'road boredom' would set in and would play a trick on Stan by starting in a different key (usually 1/2 step higher). As Stan was out in front of the band, being cordial to the guests, etc. he would not know until he had to sit down quickly at the piano (by the way, I am sure that the elks used to live inside some of those pianos!). He would then start to play the bridge of the tune 1/2 step lower and of course sound VERY wrong! That too would make him laugh until tear were streaming down his face.

In closing, here is my all time favorite Stan Kenton story. This, I feel, best describes the man - and our love and respect for him: I was nineteen - I had been with the band for about two months - and loving every moment of it. The band was to play in New York - a very important venue for sure.

Upon arrival in New York, I called my friend Bobby Nichols, the great trumpeter of the Sauter-Finegan and Glenn Miller bands. Bobby informed me that Richard Rodgers was having an audition for the on-stage part for 'No Strings'. As my goal at the time was to become a New York studio musician, this was just the thing! To make a very long story short, I played for Richard Rodgers; he shook my hand and informed me that the position was mine! as fate would have it, that very same evening, BEFORE playing a very important concert, Stan called a band meeting and announced that we were about to begin a six week period of 'the Stan Kenton summer clinics' and that everyone would have to take a significant cut in pay. Stan continued and said that if anyone had to leave in order to support their families, that he understood completely and that there would no hard feelings.

The band then took their places on the stage and played what had to be one of the greatest musical and emotional moments I have ever experienced! EVERYONE on the stage knew what was happening - tears were streaming down Stan’s face - the band was also extremely touched. I decided at that moment that mar. Rodgers world have to find another trombone player. By the way, no one left the band.

Stan Kenton shaped and influenced my life more than he could ever know. I will forever be deeply grateful. After more than twenty-five years, I still miss him very, very much.

Thank you Stan!
Editor’s Note: This editor thought that a few words about Pete Rugolo were in order.

The Father of Modern Music: Pete Rugolo

By Paul Cacia

What Billy Strayhorn was to Duke Ellington, Pete Rugolo was to Stan Kenton. The truth of their musical relationship, its evolutionary stages and more importantly Rugolo’s contributions to music history, have gone far unrecognized for too long. Pete sought out and upon his own merits, was accepted as a composition student at Mill’s College by the great French composer Darius Milhaud, the last of the great classicists. This rigid training in formal orchestration and voicings was to be the catalyst for the great Stan Kenton and his concept or vision, and as well, the pivotal point that would help a nation grow to musical maturity. Pete had given Kenton some charts he’d done while in the Army, when the band got around to playing them no one could tell if the new guy had written them or Stan. He had figured out Kenton’s concept, so Stan hired him in 1944 upon release from the service.

Collaboration


This is where over time the Kenton sound of polyphonic chord structures and Rugolo’s brilliant genius and formal training allowed for this mind meld to take shape. It also is a testament to both men’s attributes, Stan’s generosity of spirit to share his dream with another man, and Pete whose humility and esteem developed the initial sounds and workings of what every Kenton composer would eventually become, an extension. They then took their place in the line of succession of those chosen to forward the “Kenton sound”.

The Primary Architect

Stan disbanded after the first decade, establishing the orchestra again after health problems. Rugolo took a position in New Your City as head of A & R for Columbia Records in 1949. During the period, three important events took place. First, he signed a relatively unknown trumpet player to the label, his name was Miles Davis. Second, he signed an unknown singer named Harry Belafonte. Third, he composed, conducted and arranged the song “Overtime” for the Metronome All-stars, featuring, Bird, Diz, Miles, etc. and finally approved several recording sessions as Executive Producer for Miles Davis. Months later, these would be released under the title known as “The Birth Of The Cool”, of which Miles personally gave credit to Pete, because others somehow left his name off of the liner notes.

“A True, American, Classical Work

These words were chosen by Leonard Bernstein to describe Pete Rugolo’s composition “Mirage”. It was almost 1950, the phone rang it was Stan, Pete I’m on my way back to LA we’re putting together a big band with strings and extended instrumentation, start writing, anything you want, Stan was always good to Pete about that. He pretty much had a free hand once initial ideas were exchanged.

Modern American Music

The Innovations Orchestra toured for two years. By then Pete Rugolo was touted in certain media as the equivalent in music, as that which Einstein was to science and the modernists were all the rage. Pete was offered to record his own big band, multiple albums in all, in the 1950’s, using many of the cats who also settled down in Los Angeles, because the Big Band era touring days were over, cats like Maynard Ferguson, Shelley Manne, Buddy Childers, Milt Bernhart, George Roberts, etc… (Rugolo gets and makes the break that changes the scene)

Strayhorn on Advice

Stray dropped by Pete’s pad, not uncommon, whether it was Andre Previn, phone calls from Harry James or the studio with next weeks show he would be writing for, it was a busy place.

Strayhorn was stuck, writers block, and Pete jumped in. Today, upstairs on Rugolo’s office wall is half of a musical composition in Strayhorn’s musical penmanship, framed, underneath written to Pete, are the words “thanks for all the help, Love Stray…”.

If you are a true Kentonite, you will hear the half of “Lush Life” Pete Rugolo composed, although never given credit. Nat King Cole, knowing this fact requested that Pete do the orchestration and conduct the orchestra at Capitol for his recording of “Lush Life”. It is Rugolo in one of his finest hours.

Modern Music

The phone would ring again, this time Pete’s assignment would be the main title theme for a new series staring actor David Jansen, and this time Pete would be the first composer, conductor, in the medium of television to utilize the big band format, with strings, in an odd time signature. Far ahead of his time, so well written, you do not notice the odd time signature, it almost feels in four. “The Fugitive” became a big hit inspiring other shows to emulate the Rugolo idea.

Universal the First Studio

By now Pete was the most eligible bachelor in Hollywood that is next to Frank Sinatra! Pete and Frank were friends until Frank’s passing.

Pete was a staff writer at Universal amongst a crew of names now well known: Bernard Herman, Henry Mancini, John Williams, David Rose, Lalo Schifrin, and others. One day, again, the phone rang; it was an executive from upstairs who wanted Rugolo to do something “jazzy”, to next season’s title theme song. Pete said he would need to call jazz musicians not the studio regulars of that time. The executive told Pete he could he could have whomever he chose, and so he did, being a benchmark of first dates, he would have his old Kenton band mate’s on the session. The TV theme was the swing version of “Leave it to Beaver”. This was another Rugolo session that opened up the doors for jazz musicians to be accepted in the studio, at that time studio musicians were classically oriented.

The Great Composer

Pete Rugolo is a man of true genius, even greater is his ability to have survived 70 years in the music industry, and has remained above the politics. He is beloved by those of accomplishment, in the Beverly Hill’s community, and is a welcome dinner guest in those elite circles. He remains married to his beautiful wife Edye Rugolo who is the Executive Director of “The Young Musician’s Foundation." They have three adult children.

It has been said that music is a gift from God, and if so, the collaboration between Kenton and Rugolo was made in Heaven, because not only did they entertain people, they created something so valid it touched audiences around the world, and inspired scores of legendary Kenton Alumni, who helped create this gift we all respect known as the Kenton factor. For this trumpet soloist, leader and producer, I have known a handful of the world’s most significant people, and in this case, I would like to get personal, “Pete Rugolo is one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. With his gift of music, a pencil and music paper, he changed the world for the better. Thank You Pete!”

Anthony J. (Tony) Agostinelli

As a stage-struck fan, who listened to Stanley Kenton on the Bob Hope radio programs, I waited at the stage door of the Metropolitan theatre in Providence, Rhode Island in 1946; Stan would come out after his and his band’s performance there. The performance reached me at many levels...intellectually, emotionally, physically…all these aspects of my reaction to his music, were overwhelming! The stage door opened and he appeared. I was also dumbstruck. He greeted us all, with a “Hi, kids!” I was standing with my older cousins; we asked for his autograph. He readily gave it to us. He was so tall to me…but then I was only 4 ft something at the time! His music and his presence made a strong impression on me. I became a life-long fan. For the many performances of the band that I attended, and when I mingled with the bandsmen, and he came along, it was always a big, smiling, “Hi,” or “Hello.” No question was brushed aside, no request was treated with disdain, and no fan was turned away.

I also spoke with him on several occasions, as I became a college student and beyond...for example, at the Montreal Forum, in the early 1950s. A group of us had come to Montreal from St. Michael’s College just outside of Burlington, Vermont where we went to college….we went to the bus after the performance…his memory was good…he looked right at me and said, “I’ve seen you before?” I responded, “You surely have!” We also traveled to Cornell University at Ithaca, New York, to see the Innovations Orchestra. I was smitten, again. Another time I saw him was at Norman, Oklahoma at the University…I was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and was wearing my uniform. My office friend Al Yannon and I were able to get back stage, dressed as we were. He came over after the performance, greeted us, I took off my cap, and he said again, “I know you, don’t I?” We chatted again, mostly about being in the Air Force. It was then that he found out I was an accordion player. He told me “not to feel bad.” “I didn’t,” I told him!

What I remember was that each time I saw him, he remembered me by looking at me...he remembered about me when I took my daughter to one of his afternoon clinics in Franklin, Massachusetts in 1971 (Ed Bride produced the gig); she was down front, I was up in the back. She asked a few questions (she was about eight years old at the time); he patiently answered her questions, and asked if she was with her parents. She pointed up to the back, and said, “That’s my father. He plays accordion!” He looked up to the back and said, “I know him!” She got his autograph.

Through the years, I wrote him asking him questions about his music. My letters were answered dutifully. Someone else in the office may have written them, and signed them, but to me they were letters from him.

One of the last times I saw him was in 1978 at Weymana in Weymouth, Massachusetts. My son was with me, as was another friend. Frankie Di Orio produced the performance. He kept on buying Cokes for my son (Frankie does not remember this). Stan did not recognize me. My son got his, and autographs of many of the bands members. Again, at the Holiday Inn in Peabody during the summer of 1978, Massachusetts, he did not recognize me….as he did, Joe and Rose Coccia.

Over the years, I saw him, spoke with him, learned about his music, collected everything he recorded (that I could get my hands on) exchanged mail…and I remember him — vividly. I often dream that he is not dead, that his band is playing another gig in the area, and I am seeing and listening to the band, and chatting with him afterwards. I wake up in a fret, and have to get up and walk around to shake the unreality of the dream. I remember one thing he said to me in 1971, “Tony, there are a lot of great accordion players; don’t give up your playing.” Also, as I pulled together a complete bibliography for my written monograph about him (mentioned below), I often felt as if he was at my shoulder watching. Often, in the dead of night or early morning, at work at home or in a library, I would turn around, because I was convinced that he was watching...and saying something like, “That’s bullshit!”

I summed it all up with a telegram sent to his family, and quoted in Bill Lee’s book, “Stan Kenton is dead! Long live Stan Kenton! While we mourn over his death, we rejoice over the legacy he has spawned. May he rest in peace — forever! May we enjoy his music — forever!”

Yeah, I remember Stan — a lot!

Books and Music

Stan Kenton: The Studio Sessions

by Michael Sparke and Pete Venudor

In 1994, Balboa Books released Kenton on Capitol and Creative World A Discography by Michael Sparke and Pete Venudor. Kenton buffs and jazz/big band experts seemed to like it.

Tony Agostinelli, Editor of THE NETWORK, writes: “For every Kenton fan, scholar, alumnus, and jazz researcher, this work is an essential document for every public or private library. I cannot get by without my copy!”

Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm

by William Lee

Dr. William Lee has re-issued Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm. It has been published in soft-cover with editing by Audree Coke and foreword by Mort Sahl. It is available again.

The Music of Johnny Richards

Arranged for stage bands, is available. 12 arrangements from Private Library, Inc. publications, owned by Johnny and Eddie Safranski are now available in their original formats for schools (4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 4 rhythm, and sometimes a conductor’s score).

The set of 12 includes: La Suerte de los Tontos, Dimples, Three Cornered Cat, To a Sleeping Beauty, Run Wild, Walk Softly, Recuerdos, the Moon Stood Still, El Congo Valiente, Sunday’s Child, Burrito Borracho, and Stage Twelve. Richards and Safranski had intended these for use by colleges, universities and high schools. They are being made available now.

For your set, please send a check or money order in the amount of $90 made out to: Private Library, Inc., Anthony J. Agostinelli, 62 Valley Lane, Woodland Valley, Portsmouth, RI 02871-2731, The $90 covers cost of shipping and handling, and the remainder goes for the operations of THE NETWORK. [With permission of Erica Tonner (Safranski), Eddie’s daughter, acting on behalf of her father’s estate who has ownership of the printed copies of Private Library, Inc.]

Stan Kenton: The Early Years

by Ed "Gabe" Gabel

In Stan Kenton: The Early Years, Gabel recalls the endless road trips back and forth across the country, harrowing flights to military bases when the Kenton orchestra was the band on Bob Hope's radio show, being stranded by a flood in Nebraska and trying to do a concert in sub-zero temperatures. The book is filled with stories of good times, bad times, exciting times, monotonous times as Stan fought to keep a band together while musicians were being drafted almost every week.

Johnny Richards: The Definitive Bio-Discography

by Jack Hartley and Jürgen Wölfer

Here is the first complete study of one of the music world's most fascinating composers/arrangers/musicians. In addition to his own orchestra, Johnny Richards not only wrote and arranged for Stan Kenton, (including such famous albums as Cuban Fire!, Adventures in Time and West Side Story), he also penned for Boyd Raeburn, Charley Barnet, Bing Crosby, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie and many others - plus scores for such movies as The Light That Failed, Dark Command, Gulliver's Travels and Northwest Mounted Police. In addition, 16 Hopalong Cassidy westerns!

Stan Kenton: The Man and His Music

by Lillian Arganian

The book is available from Artistry Press, P.O. Box 1571, East Lansing, Michigan, 48823. Price: $22.50.

Straight Ahead: The Story of Stan Kenton

by Carol Easton

The biography that Stan and many alumni did not like is out of print. It was originally published by Morrow Press in 1973, and reprinted by Da Capo press in 1981.

Monographs written by Anthony J. Agostinelli

Send your request for: Stan Kenton: The Many Musical Moods of His Orchestras, to: Tony Agostinelli, 62 Valley Lane, Woodland Valley, Portsmouth, RI 02871-2731, USA. Cost has been set at $18.00 for handling and first class postage in the USA. . For the UK, Europe and other international locations an International Postal Money Order in the amount of £10 sterling will cover the costs (postage included); allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.

For other parts of the world, use the USA rate as the basis for your computation. International postal money orders are easiest to change into USA currency.

Also available are Agostinelli’s—Some Composer/Arrangers I Have Known (all Kenton alumni) and Eddie Safranski: A Retrospective — cost has been set at $18.00 for handling and first class postage in the USA. Same International rates as above. Contact Agostinelli at: ajagostinelli@cox.net

Epilogue

Thanks also are due to members of my family et al for their help in putting out THE NETWORK over the years: Barbara; Maria, Denis, Niko; Kate, Frank, Francesca, Cecilia; Mark, Debra, Mason, Will; Matt, Carmen; and mythical friend, Dr. Ezekial Lipschitz!
The Network XXVIII put to bed: November 19, 2004 (12:00 midnight) - Fall!

Typographical errors and misspellings are all the Editor’s fault!