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Purdue jazz bands recreates
magic of 1959 Stan
Kenton show in
In a pouring rainstorm on Oct. 10, 1959, twelve thousand people packed two Elliott Hall concerts to hear jazz great Stan Kenton’s “Road Show” with June Christy and the Four Freshmen, and every time Purdue’s jazz bands play a Kenton tune someone in the audience will share memories about that special night with band leader Mo Trout.
That led Trout to put together “Stan Kenton’s Road Show Redo” as a 2010 Homecoming treat for Purdue audiences. The American Music Repertory Ensemble and the Lab Jazz Band will be featured in the free concert set for 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center.
Recordings were made at each of the 1959 performances which allowed Trout to know exactly what arrangements were performed. Tunes from that concert that will be used to recreate the magic of the moment on Oct. 15 include “Day In, Day Out,” “Walking Shoes,” “Love for Sale,” My Old Flame,” September Song” and “The Big Chase.”
The concert will open and close with “Artistry in Motion,” the signature tune that Kenton traditionally used to begin and end his concerts.
A bandleader, pianist, composer and arranger whose musical impact on jazz was felt from the 1930s through the 1970s, Kenton got his start on the West Coast. His band and style became known as “The Wall of Sound” in the 1940s.
Calling his music “progressive jazz,” Kenton sought to lead a concert orchestra as opposed to a dance band at a time when most big bands were starting to break up. Taking a year off in 1949, he came back in 1950 and put together his most advanced band, the 39-piece Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra that included 16 strings, a woodwind section and two French horns. Then quite unexpectedly, Kenton went through a swinging period.
The charts of such arrangers as Gerry Mulligan, Lennie Niehaus, Marty Paich, Bill Holman and Bill Russo dominated his repertoire during that period. All of them are represented on the Oct. 15 concert. In the fall of 1959, Stan Kenton, his orchestra, June Christy and the Four Freshman (an Indianapolis group he turned into superstars) began a five week road show made up of 38 shows in as many days while traveling thousands of miles across the United States.
Of all the stops, Elliott Hall was picked at the place they would make recordings because of its fine acoustics. The blurb on the record album’s jacket says: “ All those days and nights of working together and traveling on the bus welded the entire show into a magnificent unit, creating a musical rapport which seemed to make the whole even greater than the sum of its parts. By the time the show hit Purdue University in October, it had really jelled and the stage was set for the exciting and memorable live recording which resulted in these albums.”
The concert will also sample some other 1950s tunes associated with Kenton such as “Kissing Bug,” using an arrangement recorded by the Bill Holman Big Band on Jazz Orbit in 1958, and “Whatever Lola Wants,” recorded by Stan Kenton in 1958 on The Stage Door Swings. A Mark Taylor tune, “Granada Smoothie,” recorded by Stan Kenton in 1976 on Journey to Capricorn is also included.
The concert is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestras which offers a series of jazz, concert band and orchestra events throughout the year.
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