Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm (review)

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“Certainly one for the fans of the music of Stan Kenton, or indeed the big band jazz genre.”






Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm Portrait of a Jazz Legend

Produced by: Graham Carter

Firstly I would like to say that Carter has done a superb job organising, compiling and producing a super documentary on the jazz icon that is Stan Kenton.

This documentary is very well organised; video footage of the Kenton band spliced with personal interviews; audio spliced with timeless photographs. It lends weight to the significance of Kenton’s big band writing and far reaching influence. If you have ever played one of Kenton’s charts you will appreciate one of the core elements in his writing; energy and power, but you may not appreciate how his writing evolved and showed its modernity throughout the eras, or his involvement in the education in jazz of the youth of his day! This DVD brings these things to life!

Documentary DVDs can idolise musicians; it is just one of those traps that surrounds them and their subjects – the subjects (the greats, Kenton for example) affect people with their music and personality to a degree that when they are spoken of (often posthumously) they appear to become somewhat more than human, and upon reading and research mostly all of them amaze you by how human (read: prone to error) they are. I would therefore like to comment that we should always derive inspiration from the best aspects of music, musicians and ‘the greats’ such as Kenton (this DVD does so in a personal manner), but that we should in no way regard them as super-human. The only area where this DVD seems to tread softly is in the personal areas of his life. The tragedy and darkness (such as chronic alcoholism) in some of his life is mentioned and alluded to, but not exposed – I suspect that anyone really interested in his personal history have read about these things and may actually be keen to learn about his music – this is why this DVD is a success.

In summation: I was amazed to learn just how many were influenced by Kenton’s work and to see how active and passionate about music he was throughout his life. This DVD is certainly one for the fans of the music of Stan Kenton, or indeed the big band jazz genre.


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