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Contemporary Concepts Extra tracks, Original recording remastered

5.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, May 20, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

The 1955 classic from Stan's hardest-swinging band! Set drummer Mel Lewis and horn men Bill Perkins, Charlie Mariano, Sam Noto and Carl Fontana loose on Bill Holman's charts and you're guaranteed a ticket to bebop heaven. Comes with four bonus tracks, including two tunes-Kenton's Sunset Tower and Gene Roland's Opus in Chartreuse -from the album sessions.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 20, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 1955
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B000093U3X
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,382 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By John Tapscott on May 27, 2003
Format: Audio CD
As Michael Sparke points out in his excellent notes to the CD reissue of Contemporary Concepts, "every Kenton orchestra swung, but not all the time, and some more than others. By common consent, the swingingest of all was the band of 1955..."
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.
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Format: Audio CD
I've worn out two LPs of this classic album, and now I get to buy the CD version for my Kenton collection. Does it get any better? This is without a doubt the most swinging Kenton album of all, with the best arrangements every played by Stan's band. To own the recording of Bill Holman's arrangement of "Stompin' at the Savoy" is more than worth the price of the entire album. Throw in Holman's arrangement of "I've Got You Under My Skin" and you have, what many musicians believe, the two very best charts ever written for ANY big band! If you don't own this album you have GOT to get it. You will treasure it for the rest of your life. This album is truly the Holy Grail of Stan Kenton's Orchestra and perhaps of any big band that has ever played jazz!!!!!!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Stan Kenton has been such an under-rated talent for so long that it is a true shame.
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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Format: Audio CD
This album is a classic. When I first heard the original LP 50 years ago, the arrangements blew me away. I was just a teenager but knew Kenton was a one of a kind leader. When I heard 'Yesterdays", I knew I heard something awesome. A friend of mine who didn't like Kenton admitted that Perkins solo on this was the best he had ever heard. It still is a classic. The whole album is intriguing and it doesn't get old. Holman and Mulligan were greats then and are giants now. What awesome jazz minds they were. I'm thrilled to have this on CD, even if it is MONO. The reproduction is excellent. It's worth buying and exploring the legendary Stan Kenton.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
The reason this album is so close to me is that I saw this particular Stan Kenton band in person when I was in college. Nearing my 75th birthday I tend to nostalgia more often. But I will never forget how I felt listening to Bill Perkins play Yesterdays! One of my all time favorite experiences!

I had the vinyl 33 of this album but it got lost a long, long time ago. So glad I could download it so easily.

Being new to the Amazon MP3 Store I can't believe how much Jazz they have available for such reasonable prices. I am hooked!!!!!!!!!

Thanks Amazon!

Roland T. (Houston, TX)
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
six arrangements by the renowned Bill Holman who still makes recordings with his own big band. This is big band bop at its best, playing standards that vary into themes within themes featuring excellent sidemen. From an earlier Kenton review I reiterate that you get your money's worth with Kenton with the full band sound featuring 5 trumpets, 5 saxes and 5 trombones. Over the history of the band, personnel came and went but the Kenton alumni reads like a Who's Who in Jazz. This band is no exception with such fine soloists as alto saxists Charlie Mariano and Lennie Niehaus, the tenor work of Bill Perkins, trombonist Carl Fontana and trumpeters Sam Noto and Stu Williamson..........and not the least of all the drumming of Mel Lewis pushing the band throughout the whole set.

I forgot to mention the seventh tune of the original album, "Limelight" was arranged by its composer, Gerry Mulligan. There are four bonus tracks on this cd, one composed by Kenton and the other three by Johnny Roland, another great Kenton arranger, are opuses devoted to the color spectrum.

Truly, it's hard to pick favorites and I can only give you a few impressions. "I've Got You Under My Skin" is totally different from the one on "Portraits On Standards" (1953). I was thrilled (no other adjective is sufficient) to have been fortunate to hear tenor man Bill Perkins perform live "Yesterdays", one of his best and most poignant solos. Finally, Capitol Records back in 1956, had a number of big bands under contract (contrarian to the times) including Les Brown, Stan Kenton, Billy May, Harry James, Ray Anthony and Woody Herman. They turned out a double LP titled, appropriately enough, "Dance To The Bands". That has never been re-released!.....
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