With trumpeter Mike Vax at the helm, the Stan Kenton Alumni Band is in good hands. The group’s 2013 tour, memorialized here, would not disappoint the maestro, and should please new fans as well as the aging faithful. With Kenton you expect drama, majesty, extreme instrumental range and brassy grandeur. Band trombonist Scott Whitfield’s arrangement of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma,” featuring Vax’s high-note work, epitomizes that last concept, as does trombonist Dale DeVoe’s ‘bone-rich chart for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “I Have Dreamed.” In any Kenton retrospective, you also expect a Bill Holman twister or two from the old days; to wit, “Stompin’ at the Savoy” (definitely more Savoy Ballroom than Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa) and “Yesterdays,” with tenorman Rick Condit evoking Bill Perkins amid Holman’s dark, musing background ensembles and counterlines. There is also José Feliciano’s “Chico and the Man,” a reminder of Kenton’s pioneering work with Latin music.
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