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Bob Cooper, Bill Holman, Frank Rosolino: Kenton Presents: Bob Cooper, Bill Holman, Frank Rosolino

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In the mid-1950s, Stan Kenton cajoled or pressured Capitol Records into recording some of the best of his sidemen as leaders. The few “Kenton Presents” albums released before Capitol killed the series included superb sessions by Bill Holman and Frank Rosolino and good ones by Bob Cooper. This Mosaic set brings them together with 12 previously unissued tracks from Holman and Rosolino. It also resurrects Holman’s Great Big Band album of 1960 and the instrumental tracks from the Cooper-June Christy show-tune album, Do-Re-Mi.

The 1954 and ’55 Cooper sessions include Rosolino, Bud Shank, Jimmy Guiffre, Bob Enevoldsen, Claude Williamson and other Los Angeles regulars of the period. There are good solos, notably from Guiffre and Williamson, Cooper’s writing was pretty (“Deep in a Dream”), academic (“Drawing Lines”), bloodless (“When the Sun Comes Out”), amusing (“She Didn’t Say Yes”), and uniformly competent. In the first CD, the transition from Cooper’s octet to Holman’s is a jump from linear writing burdened by weight and busyness to linear writing without fat or wasted motion, with swing built into the lines. The 46 tracks Holman wrote for his groups and Rosolino’s reduce to mid-size proportions the kind of line writing he was doing for the Kenton band. His mastery in “Song Without Words” here is the equal of that in his famous “Stella by Starlight,” the ingenuity of the ensemble writing for four horns in “Where or When” in a league with that for four sections in “Fearless Finlay.” Holman, Herb Geller, Bob Gordon, Don Fagerquist, and Conte Candoli are among the soloists, but the arranger is the star.

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