Stan Kenton

Stan Kenton – Biography

Stan Kenton was born in 1911 in Wichita, Kansas and grew up in California. Inspired by the big bands of the Swing Era and his avant-garde classical heroes Charles Ives, Arnold Schoenberg and Darius Milhaud, Kenton’s jazz orchestra played a highly complex and energetic style of “progressive” music. Kenton’s music was often theoretical as opposed to emotional, yet he was highly influential and innovative.

In the early 1950s, he experimented with 12-tone Third Stream that was decades ahead of its time. Nevertheless, Kenton’s place in jazz history remains somewhat unappreciated despite his forward thinking philosophies. Keep reading below for Stan Kenton album reviews and accolades.


  • This Modern World (1953) A
  • Portraits on Standards (1953) A-
    • Example #2 of why Stan Kenton may be a better arranger/conductor than composer. This collection of covers features soft and subtle arrangements, which make the brass climaxes all the more volcanic.
  • Contemporary Concepts (1955) B+
    • A sterling rendition of “Yesterdays” saves this LP from being a run-of-the-mill placeholder set. By this point in his career, Kenton had retired his early avant-garde experiments in favor of a back-to-basics approach of controlled, syncopated swing. The material is far from essential yet the Kenton Orchestra close to peak form.
  • Duet (1955, with June Christy) A-
  • Kenton in Hi-Fi (1956) A-
  • Cuban Fire! (1956) B+
  • Kenton with Voices (1957) C+
  • Rendezvous with Kenton (1957) C+


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