Thursday, May 26, 2005

LA Jazz Institute festival a tribute to Stan Kenton's 'Neophonic' orchestra

Marina del Rey Argonaut

The Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra, directed by the late jazz great Stan Kenton, innovated the concept of the contemporary jazz orchestra-in-residence. Rather than touring and doing one-nighters at clubs across the country, a resident jazz ensemble would perform seasons at a single venue, much like their classical music counterparts.

The original Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra performed three-seasons, the first in 1965, at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center, marking a milestone in jazz music history. The 19-member outfit was structured along the lines of a mini-symphony, with outstanding musicianship and imaginative compositions, that played contemporary jazz.

The Los Angeles Jazz Institute is dedicating its yearly four-day jazz festival to the creative ideals set forth by Stan Kenton's Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra.

The Neophonic Impressions festival is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday, May 26th to 29th, at the Four Points Sheraton-LAX, 9750 Airport Blvd., Westchester.

Tickets range from $10 to $40 for each jazz event, or $325 for a four-day festival pass.

Today's new Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra, put together to mark the 40th anniversary of the original orchestra, will perform concerts at 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 27th; and 9 p.m. Saturday, May 28th. Guest directors for the concerts will include Clare Fischer, Russ Garcia, Bob Florence, Joel Kaye, Gerald Wilson, Tommy Vig and Lennie Niehaus.

The festival culminates with a performance by Stan Kenton alumnus Bill Holman and his band at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 29th.

Holman began his association with Stan Kenton in 1952, and he he wrote and played for Kenton for many years.

The 1960s were a fertile writing period for Holman, as he contributed to libraries and recordings of bands, including those led by Louie Bellson, Count Basie, Terry Gibbs, Woody Herman, Bob Brookmeyer, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan and Doc Severinsen.

The Bill Holman Band was started in 1975 and has continued performing and recording ever since.

For his Neophonic Impressions concert, Holman will be joined by fellow Stan Kenton alumnus Bud Shank.

The Bud Shank Big Band will also perform a concert of its own at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 28th.

Shank has been on the international jazz scene for about 60 years as a saxophonist, composer and arranger. Shank began playing with Kenton in the late 1940s, as well as with Charlie Barnet. The 1950s were spent performing with the Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars and with his own quartet in the burgeoning "West Coast" jazz movement.

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