Morgenstern, Dan. "Record Review. Solo. Stan Kenton Without His Orchestra." Down Beat 18 Jul. 1974: 22.
SOLO: STAN KENTON WITHOUT HIS ORCHESTRA—Creative World ST 1071: Theme to the West; Eager beaver; Theme for Sunday; Reflection; Guess Where I Used to Work Blues; Concerto to End All Concertos; Sunset Tower; Interlude; Lush Waltz; Self Portrait (Opus In Pastels, Collaboration, Artistry In Bolero, Jump for Joe, Artistry In Rhythm).
Personnel: Kenton, solo plano
This beautifully recorded set of piano solos ought to be accessible even to those who find Kenton's orchestral concepts resistible and will have special appeal to lovers of the expansive, unabashedly romantic approach to music. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), Kenton's touch, voicing of chords and general harmonic orientation frequently have something in common with Dulce Ellington (I think especially of the Ellington of pieces like New York City) Blues). The fact that both men are big band pianists and composers arrangers with an orchestral conception of the piano might well have some bearing on the matter.
But I don't mean to carry the comparison—or rather, suggestion of kinship—too far. Rhythmically, the two are poles apart; besides, Kenton is very much his own man here, and for listeners who care for his music, his reflective keyboard essays on a number of familiar pieces will be Intriguing and revealing.
There are also several compositions not associated with the orchestra, and these include some that, to me, are high points of the album: Pete Rugolo's charming Lush Waltz, the aptly named Reflection; and the nearly five minutes of Blues, not unexpectedly the most jazz based.
With the exception of this latter track, and the glimpse of Joe in Self Portrait, there is rarely a definite rhythmic pulse; rather, most of the playing Is rubato. Gently tinged with nostalgia, these lyrical piano reflections are Kenton without pomp and circumstance; a warm, intimate glimpse of a dedicated and sincere musician at ease.