The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
The Big Bands
ment, was the "Innovations in Modern Music" band, which used a large string section and mixed atonal concert arrangements, some­times reminiscent of Bartok, with works that had a tangential relationship to jazz. During the next few years, though he dropped the strings, Kenton continued to record occasional ex­perimental arrangements by Bob Graettinger and others that appeared to have very little jazz validity. Overlapping with this stage of the band's evolution was the fourth phase, in which jazz returned through the arrangements of Shorty Rogers, Bill Holman and Gerry Mulligan. The bands organized by Kenton from 1954 on were mainly dedicated to this kind of music and bore a closer resemblance to the Woody Herman orchestra of the late 1940s than to any previous Kenton organization.
It is difficult to gain a clear perspective of the more ambitious works introduced by the Kenton orchestra. At this stage it can only be said that considerable doubt has been expressed by musicians and critics concerning its place in jazz. Kenton has been important, however, as the jazz world's foremost barker. Whatever the sideshow he introduced, be it the sword-swallowing attempt of an arranger to incorporate the steel of Hindemith into the body of Hampton or the two-headed man who could talk simultaneously in the languages of Tanglewood and Bird-land, he has never failed to draw attention to jazz, no matter how indirectly, and it would be unfair to Kenton to classify him as the 1950s* parallel to Paul Whiteman. Kenton's musical course never has been a straight line, but in zig-zagging its way through the past fifteen years of jazz it has blazed a trail that can neither be dismissed nor eradicated.
Mainly because the economics of the music business have made it unprofitable to invest in the formation of a big band, there have been very few new orchestras of lasting importance in recent years. Eddie Sauter and Bill Finegan, who had worked frequently as arrangers for Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey respectively, pooled their talents to organize the Sauter-Finegan band in 1952. The novel tonal effects and clever orchestrations gained them a wide audience. The value of the music varied greatly, since the main objectives seemed to be novelty for its own sake and the greatest possible variety of tone colors, ob-