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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

on May 10, 2008
The Stan Kenton band is not usually associated with dance gigs at amusement parks, but here's a live recording proving that it did happen. The arrangements are superb, the work of frequent contributors Lennie Niehaus, Gene Roland, Sam Donahue, and a couple of tunes by Stan himself. The audio quality is excellent for a live big band date in 1961.
Mellophoniums were difficult to play in tune across their full range, a fact that generally went unnoticed by the audience when the horns were playing as a section within the band. It's harder to hide when they're soloing, however, as can be heard in the solos in "Suddenly It's Spring" and "Tenderly." The solo in "Reuben's Blues" fairs a bit better.
The Niehaus arrangements are my favorites of this collection. His versions of "Long Ago and Far Away," "It Could Happen to You," and "A Foggy Day" swing more than you'd expect for these tunes and feature some excellent ensemble writing. An unusual chart for the Kenton band is Gene Roland's original composition "Saga of the Blues." The first half of this nearly 10-minute track sounds like they're imitating the Duke Ellington band of 30 years earlier, but it eventually becomes more Kenton-like.
The best solos on the album come from trumpet and baritone sax. The liner notes don't identify any soloists, but Marvin Stamm is in the trumpet solo chair and the two bari players are Marvin Holladay and Wayne Dunstan. The liner notes are pretty sparse in general, neglecting to provide track times or say anything about the performance other than its date and location.
In total, the 14 tracks give you about an hour of music from a unique ensemble - an enjoyable experience, especially if you have any memories of the Kenton band.
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on December 13, 2000
This is an "unauthorized" recording made in 1961 of the Mellophonium band in concert. The sound is excellent and the band is well-disciplined and swinging. The selections are superior to those found in the Cuban Fire cd of this band.
There are a couple of clunky solos in cut two. The cheapo liner notes contain at least one error: you hear Stan single out drummer John Van Ohlen for applause, and he isn't listed as participating. Someone other than Kenton plays a joyous piano solo in one cut.
This is an excellent album, a must for Kenton fans. And don't forget to check out Marvin Stamm. Now there's a trumpet player.
Buy it.
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on April 18, 2016
quieter Kenton not as frantic
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on February 9, 2002
Recorded live at the outdoor dance pavillion of Coney Island amusement park. Some playful piano solo work which may or may not be Kenton (I've witnessed him doing similar stuff) only time I have heard vibes with a Kenton band. They work well. Jerry Lestock McKenzie is the listed drummer but "Johhny VAN Ohlen is credited for performance on A Train - Von Ohlen would have been in high school in Indianapolis at this time - guest spot for a talented kid and something Kenton did with regularity. Not a prize, but a rewarding curiosity. NOTE: The Mellophoniums were legend for pitch problems. On this set it is the sax line that is having the trouble.
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