“In this album we try to prove that jazz is not just an emotional projection from an individual musician, not something always set to a definite beat, but instead as music of string emotional impact even WITHOUT rhythm, or possibly in a five-four, seven-five, three-quarter or even at times a s rubato movement. This is one of the many ways Progressive Jazz differs from jazz in its primitive forms. The following eight selections are, we believe, good instrumental and vocal examples of jazz in the progressive vein.” — Stan Kenton
LAMENT is a Pete Rugolo composition written especially as a showcase for the talent of Brazil-born Laurlndo Almeida. The use of the guitar In this way is quite new to the annals of modern jazz, inasmuch as a polyphonic style is utilized almost entirely. The side begins with a rich chord by the five trombones, out of which comes a guitar cadenza which accelerates with the band into the main theme. This theme is played completely unaccompanied one time through, and then, as it is repeated, the rhythm section enters one at a time. The brass plays the same figure set by the guitar, with the bongo playing the last three beats in each bar. This eight-bar phrase is repeated, following which the tempo is doubled and the second theme begins. This theme is more in an ad lib vein with the rhythm section and band playing an off beat background. There is a short cadenza which leads into the original theme, this time being played in three-quarter time. There is a short passage of four-four before the side is ended with another fast cadenza and a full band chord.
IMPRESSIONISM is another composition by Pete Rugolo and was written with the idea in mind to “create descriptive impressions by evoking moods.” This is composition of symphonic type, and, unlike so many of the Kenton-Rugolo musical compositions int he past,is entirely a legato movement. It features an extremely long introduction which is built on two themes. The first is the bass theme which has all of the lower octave instruments playing in unison. An unusual thing heard in this is the use of the triangle, heretofore unheard-of in jazz bands. The melodic theme is next, played by a trumpet, alto sax and trombone. This phrase is repeated over and over but each time in a different tempo, going from two-four to six-four. Out of this comes the main theme of composition chichis played by the alto with the accompaniment of the remaining saxophones. Intermittently will be heard legitimate sax work which was write-in the French style, somewhat like that a string section. The trumpets achieve an ethereal effect with the trombones behind, and an occasional passage shows off the talent of lead trombonist Milton Bernhart. After another passage of legitimate sax wrk the side ends with the same three bars used in the first theme of the intro.
MONOTONY is the unusual Kenton-Rugolo composition over which such a controversy arose. The composition truly lives up to its title and features the same rhythmic figure from beginning to end. After the arco bass introduces the figure in the introduction Stan announces the theme at the piano with the guitar contributing numerous cadenzas. The five trombones follow immediately playing in the same theme, after which is heard a conglomeration of unusual effects but with the ever-present monotonous rhythm still continuing. The original melodic theme is take-up again by the trombones, but this time with the high unison trumpets playing the same unvarying sound with the rhythm section. Through the latter passages of this side this effect continues to increase in volume until the listener is truly in a state of frenzy.
FUGUE FOR RHYTHM SECTION is a contrapuntal record written by Pete Rugolo especially for the use of six rhythm instruments, utilizing the effects possible with the instrumentation found in the Kenton band. The section is divided into two parts: the percussion section, which is made up of drums, bongos and maracas. and the melodic section, which is the piano, guitar and bass. The side begins with the percussion section, and the main subject is introduced by the bongo and drums and is based on two notes (fifths). The maracas enter last. The melodic theme begins with every fourth bar in three-quarter time and as each instrument comes in it is accompanied by one of the opposite section. In the middle the fugue is temporarily discontinued, and the theme is taken up by the guitar and bass, with the percussion instruments accompanying. The percussion section then retards into the main subject, which in a legato mood and is written in modern polytonal harmony, and which leads into a retarded church like fugue and remains unresolved. The side is ended with the percussion section playing the first tow bars of the theme together. This is strictly a technical work, and was written primarily to show the legitimate effects possible with a rhythm section heretofore used strictly for dance tempos.
LONELY WOMAN is a production arrangement written in an impressionistic fashion, and features the voice of June Christy. This is Stan’s first presentation of June’s singing in a heavier vein, and it is projected against am abstract background that has no feeling of meter. The effect is especially evident in the verse, at the beginning. Almost every bar is rendered in a different tempo, and each word throughout the song is more of less described by musical phrasing. Arranger Pete Rugolo has created the mood of melancholia, and has sustained it in support of the theme: loneliness, This number might be described as a tone poem, set to Benny Carter’s lyrics.
CUBAN CARNIVAL is another Kenton-Rugolo composition that blends the rhythm of Cuba with our modern jazz idiom. In order to create a more fiery spirit, this record features seven rhythm instruments: bass, guitar, bongos, maracas, cow bell, drums and conga drum. The arrangement starts out with Laurindo Almeida’s guitar soloing in slow tempo, establishing the theme. As interlude follows with the brass section taking over and picking up the tempo to a bright beat for a solo by Milton Bernhart. Then a fast alto solo by Art Pepper leads into the very exciting finale, with the whole band playing against the rhythm section. The high screaming heard in the latter part of this arrangement is Al Porcino’s trumpet.
THIS IS MY THEME demonstrates how a jazz artist, such as June Christy, can project a jazz emotion by the very sound of her voice, even when she isn’t actually singing words. She sings a one bar theme several times in different places, sometimes humming, sometimes using an open voice sound, each time setting a mood for the spoken lines that follow. She speaks—rather than sings—the lyrics on this record. Her only singing is a single bar, repeated several times. This arrangement and treatment creates a “psychiatric” feeling, able to cause any emotion. Progressively the lyrics and June’s singing are soft and mellow, developing a feeling of disturbance, a tinge of anxiety, a switching total frustration culminating in a driving climax, with the band blowing tensely strong and June yelling her lyrics louder and louder. The record closes in a strange peacefulness, with the theme repeated.
Tom Herrick. "Record Review. A Presentation of Progressive Jazz." Down Beat. 2 June 1948: 14.
Elegy For Alto
Fugue For Rhythm Section
This My Theme
Album rating — ♪ ♪ ♪
This is the long awaited Kenton album of progressive jazz and it is bound to stir up a boiler factory of comment ranging from wild enthusiasm to downright vilification. It is a thoughtful selection, beautifully performed as are most of Kenton’s works and an excellently recorded package of the latest things that Stan and his musicians have been playing all over the country in concert. This album is different from its predecessor which, in the light of comparison at least, was modeled more along conventional swing band lines. The radical change is mostly in evidence in the rhythm structures of these advanced manuscripts since a lot of the unique voicings and chord combinations have been on display for some time. The rhythms presented here range from Latin American through odd patterns of five-four or seven-five down to even the lowly three-four. Monotony derives its name from a monotonously repetitive bass figure that plows doggedly through the entire score; Carnival spots the versatile Kenton rhythm section in a combination of progressivism and hard driving L-A rhythm and it comes on; Woman wills some awful vocal intervals to the hard working June Christy and reveals a heretofore unrevealed depth in some of her chest tones; Lament is a polyphonic creation by Rugolo that shows off the remarkable talents of Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida; George Weidler has a grand time altoing through the abstract Elegy in five-four time; Impressionism is a symphonic piece of Rugolo’s whose changing tempo midway is accomplished almost without realization; Fugue hands another tough score to the heavily manned rhythm section and what results will be intriguing to some rhythm minded listeners; Theme is a brave attempt by Miss Christy at abstract narration but she isn't quite heavy enough for it. I invited three musicians to listen to this album with me one night. One blew his top to the tune of a four note rating; two, who didn't get with it at all though admitting that they might after more sittings, gave it two notes and one, yours truly, took the middle course with a three-noter, maintaining that there is a lot therein that is wonderful, some that is merely show-offishness and some more that I’m not quite sure about yet. At any rate, how does it feel to read a review on Kenton where the word “sincere” is used not once? (Capitol Album CD-79)
Simon, George T, and Barry Ulanov. "Record Review. A Presentation of Progressive Jazz." Metronome, June 1948.
Presentation Of Progressive Jazz C
A jerry-built jumble of effects and counter-effects, this album presents very little that can justifiably be called either jazz or progressive. There is, to he sure, considerable aping. of the sounds of modem composers, but the jazz enters only occasionally and very slyly by the hack door, through June Christy's singing of Lonely Woman (against enormous background odds), George Weidler's alto in the Elegy For Alto, and Art Pepper on the same instrument and Al Porcino on trumpet in Cuban Carnival.
The program notes indicate the quality of the thinking behind this set of pretentious performances. Of Monotony: “The composition truly lives up to its title…” Imagine! What an achievement! Monotony!!! And Stan, who, the notes say, “on the subject of his music is most articulate.” The “articulate” Mr. Kenton says that “In this album we try to prove that jazz is not just an emotional projection from an individual musician, not something always set to a definite beat, but instead a music of strong emotional impact even WITHOUT rhythm, or possibly in a five-four, seven-five, three-four or even at times a rubato movement.” Oh, the daring! The originality! Three-quarter time, just like waltzes. “even at times a rubato movement”—just like Chopin. “WITHOUT rhythm”—thrilling but just as impossible, if you play music, as the seven-five time Stan suggests. All music is played in rhythm, though not necessarily with a regular beat in four-four; no music can he played in seven-five until fifth-notes take the place of quarter-notes and “Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come.”
There are some decent guitar measures played by Brazilian Laurindo Almeida (in Lament and Cuban Carnival) and a wisp of an idea managed in the Fugue For Rhythm Section, in which the interlinear writing just doesn't sound contrapuntal. There are some tolerable evocations of Stravinsky in Impressionism, but nothing in This ls My Theme is acceptable: a trashy set of sophomoric verses, filled with every cliche in the high-school poetry books, is intoned with meaningless dramatic emphasis by June, who varies the intoning with a well-tossed moan now and then, against a set of musical cues borrowed from radio's mystery shows. Pete Rugolo, who studied with Darius Milhaud and probably knows his L'Orestie d'Eschyle in which a genuine version of a similar idea really comes off, should have known better; whoever wrote that exercise in verbal bathos obviously could not have known better. (Capitol album CD 79)
"Record Review. A Presentation of Progressive Jazz." Billboard, 22 May 1948: 41.
STAN KENTON ENCORES—Stan Kenton—(4-10”)
Rating 80 out of 100
Cuban Carnival; Elegy For Alto; Fugue For Rhythm Section; Impressionism; Lament; Lonely Woman; Monotony; This My Theme.
Kenton’s following is big and where it is strong this package will probably do very well. But musically this is as mumbo-jumbo a collection of cacophony as has ever been loosed on an unsuspecting public. Much of it is inferior attempt to dip into the real of modern classicist while the minority is composed of modern jazz sounds, solos and June Christy, who sings badly out of tune once and proves a fifth rate Bernhardt on “This Is My Theme.” Most successful is “Monotony.”Neat package.
JUKES Not suitable
JOCKS Different enough from ordinary pops to warrant intermittent plays.
1. Lament (Pete Rugolo)
solo: Almeida (g)
2. Impressionism (Pete Rugolo)
solos: Weidler (as)/Cooper (ts) Safranski (b)
3. Elegy For Alto (Pete Rugolo)
solo: Weidler (as)
4. Monotony (Pete Rugolo)
solos: Kenton (p) Wetzel (tp)/Layton (tb)/Mussulli (as)/Musso (ts)
5. Fugue For Rhythm Section (Pete Rugolo)
6. Lonely Woman (Benny Carter & Ray Sonin)
vocal: June Christy
7. Cuban Carnival (Cubana) (Pete Rugolo)
solos: Safranski (b) Almeida (g) Bernhart (tb) Pepper (as) Porcino (tp)
8. This Is My Theme (Pete Rugolo)
vocal: June Christy
All tracks arranged by Pete Rugolo.
Additional Capitol versions
CD-79 — four 78rpm 10” records
EPF 172 — two 45rpm 7” records
T 172 — 12” LP
Creative World reissue — ST- — 12” LP
Frank Pappalardo (tr. 3-5)
Art Pepper (tr. 1-2, 6-8)
Bart Varsalona (b-tb)
Rene Touzet (tr. 5)
Salvador Armenta (tr. 4)
Jose Luis Mangual (tr.7)
Carlos Vidal (tr.7)