Saturday, April 30, 2011

Recollections of Stan Kenton concerts in Holland ( 1953 and 1973)

RECOLLECTIONS of STAN KENTON concerts in HOLLAND ( 1953 en 1973)
Reviews of the 1953 Concertgebouw ( Amsterdam) and 1973 Doelen (Rotterdam) concerts.
Peter Varenhorst and Hans Koert

Herinneringen aan Stan Kenton in Holland (1953 en 1973) (Nederlands) - Recollections of Stan Kenton concerts in Holland ( 1953 and 1973) (English)
One of the first big bands I ever heard must have been Stan Kenton's Orchestra at the Rotterdam Doelen the 2nd of September, 1973.

Stan Kenton in front of his band (early 1950s)
The band d
id arrive at Amsterdam Airport ( Schiphol) on the 31st of August and gave two concerts in Holland, the first of September at the RAI-Gebouw in Amsterdam, as part of the Audio Fair and the next day in Rotterdam, before it left for a one-month tour along European venues in England and Germany and, to finish the tour, a concert at the Royal Elisabethhall in Antwerp). It was for the first time after 17 years that Stan Kenton returned to this part of the world. Stan had been scheduled for the 28th of April, 1956 at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
In 1973 we joined the Rotterdam concert: I remember that we could only affort "cheap" places at the balcony, located behind the band. So we could easily see Stan Kenton, but not the soloist ... .. just their backs!
I don't remember special soloists - only the massive sound and Stan Kenton in front of the band conducting it with ease. The personnel for that concert was: Dennis Noday - Paul Adamson - Mike Barrowman - Mike Snustead - Gary Pack on trumpets; Dick Shearer - Lloyd Spoon - Dale Devoe - Bill Hartman - Mike Wallace on trombone; John Park - Richard Torres - Mary Fettig - Kim Park and Roy Reynolds on saxes; Kerby Steward (double bass) - Peter Erskine (drums) - Ramon Lopez (conga) as the rhythm section and, of course, Stan Kenton at the piano. In a previous blog I told how about my search for an album which remembered me to that sound of the band. If you like to learn what album I found, read the blog:
Stan Kenton

The Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
A few weeks ago Peter Varenhorst mailed me, with a request for information about the 1973 Stan Kenton concert in Rotterdam (1973) in the Grote Schouwburg ( he remembered). He joined a Stan Kenton concert for the very first time in 1953 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, twenty years earlier. His recollection was so interesting that I asked him to alow me to publish it at the Keep Swinging blog.
The original programm of the European tour (1973) ( Hans Koert coleection)
Peter Varenhorst remembered ( in translation): Well, to start my recollections. I'm 77 years old, so my stories and points of view are from a greybeard. In 1953 my girl friend, who would become the mother of our three kids, and I joined the legendary concert of Stan Kenton and his orchestra, with musicians special selected for his European tour, at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. It was a great experience to join a concert in this Holy of Holies, the Concertgebouw at the Van Baerle Street. We only could affort seats on the stage itself, behind the orchestra, so we had a great view to the backs of the musicians and the "black hole" of the hall behind them. Drummer Stan Levey sat, sweating, with a towel around his neck, on a stool beside us. I've never heard a band so well - mind that my hearing was still excellent at that time. The line-up was great, and, as I said before, special selected for this European tour. It was their second concert. The line up, as I remember after all those years, was: Zoot Sims, Lee Konitz, Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino and Stan Levy. The concert was great and when it had finished it felt as if it could have been continued for a few days more. But, I'm sorry to say, we had to wait until 1973 ( BTW: The Stan Kenton Orchestra visited The Netherlands also in April 1956, but around that times Peter was in military service). In 1973 Stan the Man performed in The Netherlands again, this time at the Grote Schouwburg ( must be The Doelen) in Rotterdam and we also joined that concert. This time we had, indirectly, found seats on the third row right in front of the stage. In the second row Pi Scheffer, a famous Dutch bandleader and Willem Duys, a well known TV-host, had found seats. The venue was jam-packed. The line up of the orchestras was different, of course, from the 1953 ones. Most of the musicians were relatively young, dressed in trendy clothes, long hair cut, moustaches and full beards; a lot of bell-bottom trousers and of course knitted waistcoats ... Reed player Willy Maiden must have been one of the oldest, accept Stan of course, I remember that the band played contemporary tunes, but, unmistakable real Kenton arrrangements, like MacArthur Park; Hey Jude, but also, in a contemporaty version, the Peanut Vendor and some old ones like 23rd North 82 West ( the meridians and parallels of Havanna, Cuba). In the series of LPs "Live at ......... ", which started in 1974, I found one entitled Live at Redmonds University; the music on that album remembered me to the music the orchestra played in Rotterdam.
Peter Varenhorst (Translation: Hans Koert)

Stan Kenton and June Christie ( photo courtesy: Zinn Arthur)
Peter remembers, that Bob Brookmeyer and Laurindo Almeida were part of the Augustus 1953 concert too. That seeems not correct, according to the information I found in the book One Night Stand compiled by Jaap Van Der Klomp. The line up was, according to that book: Conte Candoli - Don Dennis - Buddy Children - Vic Minichiello and Don Smith (trumpet); Frank Rosolino - Bill Russo - Keith Moon - Bob Burgess and Bill Smiley (trombone); Lee Konitz - Dave Schildkraut - Zoot Sims and Bill Holman (saxes); Tony Ferina ( baritone sax); Stan Kenton (piano); Barry Galbraith (guitar); Don Bagley (double bass) and Stan Levey (drums). June Christy was the vocalist. Peter suggests that Willy Maiden must have been one of the eldest player at the 1973 concert, but, according to the Creative World magazine ( July 1973) ( released to support Stan's Europoean concert) Willy Maiden was not a member of the band during this trip.

Thanks,Peter, for your inspiring review of both concerts .................

Hans Koert en Peter Varenhorst

One of the first great American jazz musicians I must have seen in concert was Stan Kenton. His band was scheduled in 1973 for a concert at the Rotterdam Doelen and I remember I only could affort one of the cheaper seats, behind the band on the balcony. I remember the massive sound and the easy way Stan Kenton directed the band. Also Peter Varenhorst was part of the audience. For him it was the second times he heard the Stan Kenton band. In 1953, twenty years before the Rotterdam concert, he joined a Kenton concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and loved to share with us his remembrances. If you don't want to miss any contribution, please register for the Keep Swinging newsletter or follow it at Twitter.

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