Stan Kenton: Progressive Concepts in Jazz
Stanley Newcomb Kenton is one of the most influential figures to be found in all of jazz history, even being called "the most significant figure of the Modern Jazz age" by Frank Sinatra (Agostinelli, 6). Kenton's progressive concepts of how music is written and performed greatly affected the genre of jazz, and created something new and unique. Always under controversy, Kenton and his band always strove to do something different, never settling into a niche for long periods of time. Even today, when hearing modern jazz performers (particularly big bands) one can often hear the influence from Kenton's music.
Kenton was born in Wichita, Kansas on December 11, 1911, although he spent most of his youth in the Los Angeles area. He began studying piano and composition early with his mother and eventually with bandleader and pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines. Kenton was influenced by many different kinds of music other than jazz, including twentieth century composers Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, and Bela Bartok. Once he was a little older, Kenton began playing around in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, and formed his first band in 1941, beginning his career as a bandleader. Kenton's music is best organized into the different "eras" of the Kenton bands: Artistry in Rhythm (mid-1940s), Progressive Jazz (mid- to late 1940s), Innovations in Modern Music (early 1950s), New Concepts in Artistry in Rhythm (Contemporary Jazz) (early to mid-1950s), Orchestra in Residence (late 1950s), New Era in Modern Music (Mellophoniums) (early 1960s), Neophonic (mid-1960s), and Fusion (early 1970s). Each era had different elements which made it unique while still maintaining the inimitable Kenton sound. Kenton a...
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