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Stan Kenton


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Stanley Newcomb Kenton (December 15, 1911 August 25, 1979) led a highly innovative, influential, and often controversial American jazz orchestra. In later years he was widely active as an educator.


Stan Kenton was born in Wichita, Kansas, and raised first in Colorado and then in California. He learned piano as a child, and while still a teenager toured with various bands. In June 1941 he formed his own band, which developed into one of the best-known West Coast ensembles of the Forties.


Kenton’s musical aggregations were decidedly “orchestras.” Sometimes consisting of two dozen or more musicians at once, they produced an unmistakable Kenton sound—as recognizable as that of the bands of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, or Count Basie. So large an orchestra was able to produce a tremendous, at times overpowering, volume in the dance and concert halls of the land; among musical conservatives it developed a reputation for playing strange-sounding pieces much too loudly, and indeed one comical MC introduced Stan Kenton as “Cant Standit.”

A Kenton specialty was Afro-Cuban rhythm, as exported to North America by such bandleaders as Machito (whose brass and reed sound, in turn, began to show the influence of Kenton). Translated into the Kenton idiom, however, the Latin rhythms might be scored for a full panoply of percussion instruments: tympani, bongos, conga, timbales, claves, and maracas. This component of Kenton’s work may be heard on the 1947 recording “Machito” and on the album Cuban Fire, still in print after more than fifty years of ceaseless change in popular music.


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  • DeathByPOGs

    The Four Freshmen are doing a tribute o Stan at the Detroit Jazz Festival!

    21 Jun 2013 Reply
  • kaly_

    100th Anniversary of Birth !!!

    15 Dec 2011 Reply
  • FFer2again

    Relaxing music for more than one evening

    4 Sep 2011 Reply
  • Agravenlife

    He shat on Wagner.

    10 Feb 2011 Reply
  • Mokami

    this is music

    26 Jan 2010 Reply
  • Raketenish

    (Words to live by)

    20 Sep 2009 Reply
  • Raketenish

    "There is a danger of an entire generation growing up with the idea that jazz and the atom bomb are essentially the same natural phenomenon." Barry Ulanov on Stan Kenton (1948)

    20 Sep 2009 Reply
  • vladimir34

    Few were the best!

    7 Mar 2009 Reply
  • fredoakes

    Kenton was at Newcastle City Hall twice , paid the first time ,couldn't afford it the second time , I just stood outside and listened . magic moments.

    22 Feb 2009 Reply
  • worktodo

    As far as the suggestions of racism go, its worth giving the wiki article a thorough read - its well cited and points very strongly away from that conclusion.

    20 Feb 2009 Reply
  • frederickellis

    Oh yes & don`t forget, he launched the singing careers of Anita O`Day and June (the misty miss) Christy.. two of the 20th century`s most influential jazz singers.

    16 Jan 2009 Reply
  • frederickellis

    Was Kenton a racist (can you believe what the media say-I`ve learned not to)- surely even if he was, we here on LastFM must judge him purely on his musical prowess, which is undeniable- he cut a niche in his day which still lasts today- the massed power of the brass section-fantastic.. Also on the positive side, many a young musician owed getting his chance to Stan Kenton.

    16 Jan 2009 Reply
  • zrsullivan

    I prefer to think of his (potentially true) bigotry as a charming character trait, like Archie Bunker.

    5 Oct 2008 Reply
  • rise_again

    malaguena is so epic.

    19 Jul 2008 Reply
  • zrsullivan

    Madness, I tell you. Madness.

    15 May 2008 Reply

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