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Stan Kenton with The Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra: New Horizons Vol. I

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For the brief, artistically rich but financially bankrupt period of 1965-’68, Stan Kenton placed a black tie on jazz with his dream band, the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra. Its home was as opulent as his vision: downtown Los Angeles’ brand-new, 3,200-seat Music Center. In December ’64, it opened to the sounds of the L.A. Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta’s baton. A month later it reverberated to Kenton’s noble experiment-despite the objections of Dorothy Chandler (socialite and fund-raising wife of L.A. Times publisher, Norman Chandler). Her quote: “This is a classical house-there will be no sour tones in here.”

Be it polyphonic or cacophonic, the Neophonic prevailed. Turnouts were embarrassingly disappointing. Local 47 didn’t help, insisting the sidemen be paid in full while Kenton could barely pay the copyists. Bless the composers; they gave their all for the privilege of hearing the best studio band/symphonic ensemble bring their works to fruition. Imagine this smattering of talents: Conte Candoli, Al Porcino, Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino, brass; Red Callender, tuba; Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Buddy Collette, reeds; Mike Lang, piano; Laurindo Almeida, guitar; and percussionists Shelly Manne, Emil Richards and Frank Carlson. Composers like Lalo Schifrin, Johnny Richards, Marty Paich, Hugo Montenegro, Shorty Rogers, Nelson Riddle, Clare Fischer and Bill Holman. Even guests like clarinetist Buddy DeFranco.

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