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The Ballad Style of Stan Kenton

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Album Review

Stan Kenton's early arrangements set the tone for his orchestra, but through the years, he generally farmed out the writing chores to other talented arrangers who could move the big band forward. However, he did arrange occasional ballad charts, and this 1958 album (reissued on CD in 1997) showcases Kenton's writing. The Ballad Style of Stan Kenton is an unusual set, for other than some muted trumpet, Kenton's melodic piano is the only soloist. The 13 ballads (a dozen standards and a band original) are given restrained treatments which hint at the band's power without overtly expressing it, and the music is both romantic and danceable. An underrated set.


Born: 15 December 1911 in Wichita, KS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

There have been few jazz musicians as consistently controversial as Stan Kenton. Dismissed by purists of various genres while loved by many others, Kenton ranks up there with Chet Baker and Sun Ra as jazz's top cult figure. He led a succession of highly original bands that often emphasized emotion, power, and advanced harmonies over swing, and this upset listeners who felt that all big bands should aim to sound like Count Basie. Kenton always had a different vision. Kenton played in the 1930s in...
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