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Stan Kenton Orchestra: Road Band ‘67

Stan Kenton

As we all get set to mark the controversial bandleader’s 30th death-a-versary, new Stan Kenton recordings are still seeing the light. This live recording, recorded at the Moonlight Gardens in June 1967, isn’t merely a low-fi exhumation. For the most part, presence and vividness are astonishing, and the musicians negotiate a fine set of arrangements with spirit and finesse. The orchestral swells lavished upon “I Will Wait for You” and “The Shadow of Your Smile,” both arranged by Kenton bassist Bill Fritz, and “It Was a Very Good Year,” arranged by Kenton, add a little unexpected luster to those ’60s relics.

None of the big names who played with Kenton are on hand here, but the small circle of featured soloists are all capable, particularly Alan Rowe on tenor (“The Singing Oyster”), Jay Daversa on trumpet (“Limehouse Blues”), and Ray Reed on alto (“My Ship”). Reed’s wailing solos make you wish Charlie Parker had the benefit of Kenton’s backup.

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