Now officially known as “The Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra” (by blessing of the estate of Stan Kenton), the group sounds better than ever! This new live CD features one of the finest alumni ensembles around, and the best tunes taken off their Spring tour of the Southern U.S. Outstanding!
Beat 70 • Roy’s Blues • Summer Violets • I’m Glad There is You • Lefty Leaps In • Virna • Come Out Swinging • Shell Game – A Tribute to Clark Terry • It Might As Well Be Spring • You Turned the Tables on Me • Passages • Slow Boat to China • Getting Sentimental Over You • Malaguena
MIKE VAX has been devoted much of his professional life during the last several decades trying to keep the legacy of big band music, most notably that of Stan Kenton, alive and vibrant. In addition to Kenton’s musical legacy, Vax has been carrying on the Kenton dedication to jazz education, an area where Kenton was one of the early leaders. One result of Vax’s efforts is the existence of THE STAN KENTON LEGACY ORCHESTRA, a big band that Vax has fronted through a few name changes for 25 years. Vax, an alumnus of the Kenton Orchestra, originally comprised his band of other Kenton alumni, but as the years have passed, the number and availability of these alumni has decreased. The commitment of Vax has never waned, and he has continued to lead a band that mixes alumni like trumpeters Vax, Dennis Noday and Steve Huffsteter; trombonists Dale DeVoe and Kenny Shroyer; reedmen Kim Richmond and Joel Kaye; and drummer Gary Hobbs, with other excellent players to perform programs that include new material written in the Kenton style as well as charts from the Kenton book.
Storming Through the South (Summit – 678) documents highlights from the Spring 2015 tour, the eighteenth such tour by the band, which took them to 16 stops in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas over a period of 17 days. They traveled by bus, just like in the days of the travelling big bands, keeping a hectic schedule. At most places, the band gave a free clinic to local high school students in the afternoon, and played a concert in the evening. As you can hear on this recording, the whirlwind schedule did not adversely affect the playing of the musicians. There are 13 selections, each of which features tight ensemble playing and outstanding soloists. For those who want a taste of the older Kenton book, there are tunes like “I’m Glad There Is You,” arranged by Kenton, “It Might As Well Be Spring,” arranged by Willie Maiden, “You Turned the Tables on Me,” arranged by Lennie Niehaus and the classic Bill Holman chart on “Malaguena.” Some of the terrific new selections are Dale DeVoe’s “Roy’s Blues Revisited,” Scott Whitfield’s chart for Jennifer Leitham’s “Lefty Leaps In,” and Kim Richmond’s “Passages.” The band sounds wonderful, the recording quality is excellent, and the music is sublime. Try Storming Through the South with The Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra, and you will find yourself enjoying the trip. (www.summitrecords.com)
“This band is carrying on [Kenton’s] legacy and one hopes he is somewhere smiling. All of the excitement that earmarked the original Kenton orchestra has been captured for a new generation.”
— ALL ABOUT JAZZ