Stan Kenton

Photo: Courtesy of the Kenton Estate

In February of 1941, a relatively unknown bandleader by the name of Stan Kenton auditioned his orchestra at the Rendezvous Ballroom on Balboa Island, California, one of the area's most prestigious venues for big band jazz. Although the band had only been together for a few months, they were able to convince the club to give them a summer booking. They opened on the night of May 30, 1941 and the rest is history.

Fifty years later, on May 30, 1991, fans from all over the world gathered at the Hyatt Newporter Resort in Newport Beach, California to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stan Kenton's debut at the famed Rendezvous Ballroom and to pay homage to one of the most influential figures in jazz. Los Angeles radio station, KLON, had assembled a 4 day event consisting of a total of 18 concerts and 10 panel discussions to commemorate not only the anniversary but the enduring legacy Stan Kenton left behind. MAMA Recods' Stan Kenton 50th Anniversary Celebration: Back to Balboais a five-disc set of digital recordings of the event.

Two of the discs offer a band of Kenton alumni doing many of Stan Kenton's "STANdards", conducted by Pete Rugolo, William Russo, Shorty Rogers, Bill Holman, Hank Levy, Buddy Childers, Lennie Niehaus and Marty Paich. Featured alumni included: Conte Candoli, Pete Candoli, the late Monty Budwig, Chris Connors, Anita O'Day, Jiggs Whigham and Bob Cooper. Some of the selections featured are "Artistry in Rhythm," "Eager Beaver," "Peanut Vendor," "Take the 'A' Train" and "Stella by Starlight,"

The third and fourth discs of the set feature prominent alumni with their own bands. Among those whose live performances were digitally recorded during the celebration: The Bob Florence Limited Edition, The Bud Shank Quartet, Maynard Ferguson and the Big Bop Nouveau Band, The Buddy Childers Big Band, the Bud Shank-Shorty Rogers Lighthouse All-Stars, The Bill Holman Big Band, the Lee Konitz Quarter, The Tom Talbert Jazz Orchestra, The Bill Perkins Quarter and The Mark Masters Jazz Orchestra.

The fifth disc features selections from the ten panel discussions held during the weekend. Jimmy Lyons, Gene Norman, Howard Rumsey, Anita O'Day, Milt Bernhart and Laurindo Almeida were just some of the panelists who shared colorful stories with those assembled at the Hyatt Newporter Resort.

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