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Portraits On Standards Original recording remastered

4.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, June 5, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Art Pepper, Zoot Sims, Frank Rosolino and others join Kenton's 1954 quest to breathe new life into old standards. Behold their brilliant versions of My Reverie; Street of Dreams; Baia; Crazy Rhythm; April in Paris; How High the Moon; The Lady in Red , and more!
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 5, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 1953
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B00005JGRG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,805 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This set features all of the original 1953 "Portraits On Standards" album, several tunes from the 1954 "Sketches On Standards" and some others, recorded around the same time. There is no indication that any alternate takes exist.
This cd re-issue is particularly welcome with its complete player personnel listing for each tune as well as a delineation of the soloists and recording dates. Additionally, there are abundant and interesting liner notes describing the tunes and featuring quotes from arranger, Bill Russo and trumpeter, Conte Candoli among others. None of this information was available on the original lp's.
Many of you reading this review are already familiar with the musical program. The first 9 tunes are, to me, the most compelling, featuring outstanding solos by Zoot Sims, Conte Candoli and Lee Konitz, among others. They were arranged by Bill Russo and are both atmospheric and driving. The final six tunes were arranged by Kenton. While not necessarily as interesting as the Russo efforts, Kenton's arrangements are still every good and carry the distinctive Kenton style.
As is becoming so prevalent nowadays, the selections were re-mastered using 24 bit mapping. Whatever that entails, it has resulted in decidedly clearer sound than the original vinyl, not withstanding the age of the master tapes. The soloists seem to jump out and sound as if they're in the same room with you.
In summation, this excellent and somewhat overdue Michael Cuscuna-produced re-issue is a must have for Kenton fans (such as me) and highly rewarding for anyone interested in progressive, influential 1950's big band jazz.
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Format: Audio CD
The other reviewers have said much already - the great personnel of the Kenton band in that era, those great Russo and Kenton ballad arrangements, the liner notes with personnel listings and arranger credits, the great treatments of classic tunes.
I would add that I couldn't believe the great sound quality of this particular remastering for cd! So crisp and clear! Was all that sound detail on the master tapes?? I have the original 10" LP with the first eight tracks of the cd. Man, what a difference! Its like Rossolino, Konitz, and the other soloists are right up there, front stage in the sound picture. I played through the album a second time with the volume rather high. Hope the neighbors dig Kenton! If they didn't they may now.
And after so many second or third rate compilations of Kenton stuff has been around for so long - this great release. Way to go Capitol!
I highly recommend this album to any Kenton fans or those who dig music of this genre!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had never owned the LP version of 'Portraits' and bought this as part of a 'buy two for a better price' deal -- and I have listened to it repeatedly. The soloists are characterstically superb and the arrangement interesting enough to add new interest to songs of which any big band fan owns multiples.
While Kenton's band always delivers on the hard swinging numbers (Crazy Rhythm is a standout -- nice Lee Konitz solo), the slower pieces fare unusually well here. 'Street of Dreams' and 'Don't Take Your Love from Me' (superb Bud Shank solo) are mellow and sentimental without sleepwalking. Chris Connor on 'Baia' is a unique treat -- using her vocals in the best instrumental tradition.
'Autumn in New York', always a great tune, features a smooth trumpet by Buddy Childers that makes this version something special. The balance of the collection more than holds its own.
Why did Capitol wait until 2001 to reissue this? Probably because there are a dozen Kenton albums that are better known. While this would not be the first album I'd recommend to those seeking an introduction to Stan Kenton, it is an elegantly played selection of timeless songs -- and 'Portraits' is likely to appeal to those who are not particularly enamored by the Latin-inspired (and excellent) Johnny Richards recordings (Cuban Fire) or the later mellophonium orchestra.
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Format: Audio CD
I have been waiting years for this CD. I had both LPs in the old days -- "Portraits on Standards" and "Sketches on Standards" and played them incessantly. Unfortunately, I sold all my LPs when I made the switch to CDs and thought a re-issue would be forthcoming. Well, at long last. I love the slower versions of Kenton's dynamic arrangements, with undercurrents of that big band beauty and power still coming through. And what a line-up of talent from that era. Kenton still rules.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD has been extremely well reviewed already, so there is really nothing to add, except another opinion that this is a five star album. Every track is delightful.

If I have a criticism of the Kenton band in general, it is that much of their output is probably better heard live or in concert than at home or in the office on CD. At times Kenton likes to get out the brass knuckles and hit you over the head with a barrage of sound. This does not apply to this album, which is delightfully mellow and relaxed and guaranteed NOT to give you a headache.
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Format: Audio CD
As noted by the Amazon review, this album was originally not a full-sized LP, but 10", and featured the arrangements of Bill Russo. According to the liner notes, Kenton didn't usually like Russo's arrangements. Russo had studied with Lennie Tristano, and it showed. His arrangements were lighter, less emotional, and had a different texture. Russo convinced Kenton that he should arrange a "book" of dance tunes, and the first eight tunes on the album are those arrangements.

The rest of the album is made up of Kenton arrangements recorded at various times between 1951-1954, and you can hear the difference immediately. Kenton liked to write harmony for a section at a time, and his arrangements are typically more emotional, romantic and powerful.

In my mind, the best tracks on the album are Kenton's - "Street of Dreams", "Under a Blanket of Blue", and others are very powerful and beautiful arrangements. That's not to take anything away from Russo's charts. In fact, several of Russo's charts are also very good.

This band was filled with all-stars - Art Pepper, Conte Condoli, Frank Rosolino, Zoot Sims, Bud Shank, and many others, and the quality of playing is outstanding. Highlights include Pepper's solo in "Street of Dreams", Rosolino in "I've Got it Bad" and several others.

While this CD isn't ground-breaking Kenton, it is Kenton at his most musical - a great band, great tunes, and classic arrangements.
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