|1. What's New|
|2. Stella By Starlight|
|3. I've Got You Under My Skin|
|5. Stompin' At The Savoy|
|7. Sunset Tower (Bonus)|
|8. Opus In Chartreuse (Bonus)|
|9. Opus In Turquoise (Bonus)|
|10. Opus In Beige (Bonus)|
It's hard to imagine how this band couldn't swing hard. Al Porcino was leading the trumpets, the rhythm section consisted of Ralph Blaze on guitar, Max Bennett on bass, and the incomparable Mel Lewis on drums, who simply wouldn't play if the music wasn't swinging. Plus there were heavyweight swinging soloists in every section - all the saxes, including Chsrlie Mariano, Lennie Niehaus and Bill Perkins; trombonist Carl Fontana (one of the all time trombone greats); plus trumpeters Sam Noto and Stu Williamson. This was a great band, one of Kenton's finest.
But the biggest factor in the swinging success of this album was the writing of Bill Holman (6 charts) and Gerry Mulligan (1 chart). Holman was on the Kenton arranging staff in the early to mid '50's and this music represents a creative peak in his career. What Holman does with the six standards he arranged for this album is not only swinging, but exceptionally creative and memorable. These charts are now considered classics of big band arranging. Three of them, "Stella by Starlight" (featuring Mariano), "Stompin' at the Savoy", and "Yesterdays" (featuring Perkins), remained in the book for the rest of Kenton's band leading career which ended in 1978. These charts, along with "What's New" are still performed by Kenton Alumni and Tribute bands. In addition Lennie Niehaus burns through "Cherokee", taking a back seat to no one in his interpretation of this tune. "I've Got You Under My Skin" is another intriguing Holman chart which features a parade of five soloists, beginning with baritonist Don Davidson. "Limelight" is a typical Mulligan swinger, featuring the flowing trombone lines of Fontana.
The bonus tracks included on this 44 minute CD are Kenton's own "Sunset Tower" which featues Kenton's lovely saxophone scoring and powerhouse brass writing, along with a strong Fontana solo. The three "Opus's" come from Gene Roland's "Colors Suite" and feature strong, distinctive themes, along with some great brass playing and very interesting saxophone voicings. "Opus in Charteruse" became a favorite at Kenton concerts for years.
"Contemporary Concepts" is a truly magnificent and most enjoyable CD which I listened to 3 times on the day I received it and several times since then. Of course, I have had this music for years on a Creative World LP, but it is great to have it in clear, remastered sound on CD. It's not enough to say this CD is one of Kenton's best. I believe it is one of the best 10 big band jazz recordings ever made. Recommended without reservation.
His attention to a creative interpretation of music, along with his unique use of instrumentation and rhythm -- are beautifully heard on this album from the mid-1950s - now available - FINALLY on a professionally recorded audio CD.
Contemporary Concepts!! The man IS THE DEFINITION of contemporary, inventive, distinctive jazz, without ever wasting a note or a musical phrase.
He was ahead of his time then and this music can STILL hold its own with any "jazz recording of a standard". You have never heard these songs in THIS way.
I loved this record album when I was a kid. I made an audio cd of it a few years ago on my computer for my car stereo and still play it often.
NOW, it is finally available from one of the best names in jazz (Blue Note) and I am purchasing a copy today! I could not promise you a better listening experience and musical memory.
Buy this outstanding Kenton recording! You will not be sorry!
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