SWINGING DANCE MUSIC BY STAN KENTON, ACTUALLY RECORDED IN BALBOA’S RENDEZVOUS BALLROOM, MARKING THE BRILLIANT HOMECOMING OF STAN AND HIS BAND TO THE PLACE WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.
The Stan Kenton band first blazed into musical prominence on Memorial Day, 1941, at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, California. Since then, Stan has traveled the high-road of musical success, winning spectacular acclaim all along the way. And now, that long road has brought him back to the Rendezvous and a home-base under his personal management-back to the sand and stars and the ocean murmur of Balboa.
More than sentiment prompted this memorable homecoming. Kenton, for his next album, wanted to find a recording area with a good natural big-hall sound. The Rendezvous was it, supplying just the right acoustics for the mood and manner of his contemporary jazz style. And in keeping with Stan's ambition to activate a vital new dancing spot on the West Coast, the Rendezvous again seemed the answer.
This album is an exciting preview of the kind of music that will be rolling out of Balboa in the months to come. It's the happy result of an "on location" recording date that saw Capitol's top engineers trucking up to the Rendezvous with tons of equipment, working with a fever and finesse matched only by the musicians themselves. On hand were all of the components of the first Kenton success—the fine, wide sound of the hall, stellar sidemen, and, of course, Stan himself.
The songs, all ballad standards except for two originals, have never been recorded by Stan previously. Joe Coccia, a brilliant new Kenton discovery, wrote Desiderata and TwoShades of Autumn, and arranged all the other numbers. They are swingy and stimulating, blending the forthright buoyancy of the early Kenton hits with the adventurous jazz idioms which Stan has conceived, developed and refined during the seventeen years since his Balboa debut.
Cerulli, Dom. "Record Review. Rendezvous with Kenton." Down Beat, 1 May 1958: 21.
Music in review
In Rendezvous with Kenton (Capitol T 932), a program of 12 dance tunes is presented by the Kenton band on its home ground, the Rendezvous (formerly Balboa) ballroom. Each of the tunes has at least one solo around which Joe Cocchia constructed the arrangements.
Among sidemen heard are Sam Noto (With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair; They Didn'tBelieve Me, and I See Your Face Before Me); Kent Larsen (Memories of You), and Bill Perkins (This ls No Laughing Matter, Two Shades of Autumn, with Lennie Niehaus. and Walkin’ by theRiver, with Billy Catalano). Lee Katzman, Ed Leddy, Kenny Shroyer, and Archie Le Coque also are heard on other tracks.
This is Stan's scene now: dance music, but with some of the flash and fire of his concert band. He's carrying 10 brass, and every now and again you know it. A band like this could make jazz fans visit ballrooms if only to listen (D.C.)
Bill Coss. "Record Review. Rendezvous with Kenton." Metronome. April 1958: 26.
Stan Kenton’s Rendezvous With Kenton (Capitol T 932) : twelve tracks recorded at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa. California, where Stan first burst into prominence and which he now plans to use as his own home-base ballroom. The songs are all ballad standards except for two. Two Shades of Autumn and Desiderata, both of which were written by Joe Coccia, who arranged the rest of the tunes in this album. Each track features a Kenton side man so that the listener hears extensively from trumpeters Sam Noto, Lee Katzman, Billy Catalano and Ed Leddy, trombonists Kent Larson, Archie Le Coque and Kenny Shroyer (bass trb.), altoist Lennie Niehaus and tenorist Bill Perkins. The standards are such as Memories of You,They Didn't Believe Me, Love Letters and I See Your Face Before Me, none of them ever recorded by Kenton before. Naturally enough, the album has a unified feeling and sound, what we've come to associate with much of West Coast writing and playing somewhat in the Bill Holman school for want of a description. It is engaging and satisfying big band fare at various tempos and in several moods. There are rare moments, too: such as Perkins and Niehaus and the arrangement on Two Shades of Autumn; and a variety of other solos and scores. If the writing and play- ing is somewhat ponderous from time to time, in the manner of some of Stan's bands, it is easily excused, at least for this listener, by the generally high quality of everything in and around it.
GL. "Record Review: Rendezvous with Kenton." Jazz Journal, May 1958: 27.
STAN KENTON With The Wind And The Rain In Your Hair; Memories Of You; These Things You Left Me; Two Shades Of Autumn; They Didn’t Believe Me; Walkin’ By The River (15½ min)—High on A Windy Hill; Love Letters; I Get Along Without You Very Well; Desiderata; This Is No Laughing Matter; I See Your Face Before Me (15 min)
(Capital T932. 12inLP. 33s. 8½d.)
The leader is photographed on the sleeve leaning, handsome and demure, over a balustraded terrace. On the reverse he is depicted, baton in hand, haggard and hawk-like. Perhaps these two contrasting photographs epitomise the music which the Kenton band strives to produce, and which is evidently the subject of so me concern to the maestro himself. His aim is clearly not to entertain the jazz connoisseur, nor to amuse the masses. Rather he seems to prefer to baffle both, and on occasion to offend the former. Here he does neither by presenting some elaborate three-minute versions of out-of-date pops. The soloists, notably Niehaus and Perkins, struggle against fearful odds and lack the rhythm support that any self-respecting soloist would demand. This is nothing but pretentious dance music, lacking even the interest aroused by his early big band work. G.L.
Stan Kenton (pno) leading Sam Noto, Phil Gilbert; Lee Katzman, Billy Catalano, Ed Leddy (tpt); Lennie Niehaus. Bill Robinson (alto); Bill Perkins, Wayne Dunstan (tnr); Steve Perlow (bari) ; Kent Larsen, Jim Amlotte, Don Reed, Archie Le Coque, Kenny Shroyer (tmb); Red Kelly (bs); Jerry McKenzie (drs). Oct. 1957.
McCarthy, Albert J. "Record Review. Rendezvous with Kenton." Jazz Monthly
STAN KENTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Sam Noto, Phil Gilbert, Lee Katzman, Billy Catalano, Ed Leddy (tpt); Kent Larsen, Jim Amlotte, Don Reed, Archie LeCoque (tbn) Kenny Shroyer (bs-tbn); Vince DeRosa, Jimmy Deckker (fr-h); Lennie Niehaus, Bill Robinson (alt); Bill Perkins, Wayne Dunstan (ten); Steve Perlow (bar); Stan Kenton (p); Red Kelly (bs); Jerry McKenzie, drums.
Rendezvous Ballroom, Balboa—October 8, 1957 I Get Along Without You Very Well Two Shades of Autumn Love Letters With the Wind and theRain in Your Hair Walkin’ by the River Desiderata
Rendezvous Ballroom, Balboa—October 9, 1957 I See Your face before Me Memories of You These Things You Left Me High on a Windy Hill This is No Laughing Matter
Rendezvous Ballroom, Balboa—October 10, 1957 They Didn't Believe Me
CAPITOL T932 (12-inch)—33/8½d.
A new Kenton discovery, one Joe Coccia, arranged all the numbers on this LP and wrote Two shades of autumns and Desiderata. From the evidence here he seems fit to rival Buddy Bregman as one of the biggest arranging bores around.
An LP of standards, unless the solos are of a very hight order, depends to some extent to the success of the arranger in retaining some of the moods of the numbers. This Coccia singularly fails to do. The performances follow identical routines, with the emsble generally stating the theme, to be followed by a featured soloist who gives way at the close to the expected screaming brass. Sam Noto, a soloist of exceptional dullness, is heard on Wind, They didn’t believe me and I see your face. Ed Leddy, a minor trumpeter, but much superior to Noto, is the soloist on I get along without you. Catalan is featured on Walkin’ and is quite mediocre, but here Perkins has a pleasant solo. The trombonists, complete with the braying tone peculiar to Kenton men, can be heard on Memories (Larsen), High (LeCoque) and Desiderata (Shroyer)—all strictly expendable. Niehaus, the best soloist in the band, is featured on These things, Two Shades and Love letters, but his tone has deteriorated and his ideas here are surprisingly commonplace. Perkins, the other soloist of some grace, is also heard on Two shades and throughout This is no laughing matter. It is difficult to reconcile his tone on the latter with that heard on the recent John Lewis inspired Pacific Jazz LP, and one can only hope that both he and Niehaus are suffering from some acoustical trick of the recording.
Not even the most fervent Kenton addict will find much of interest on this bombastic LP. By Kenton’s own standards, not held in any esteem of this reviewer, this is a poor record. A.McC.