Stanley Newcomb “Stan” Kenton (December 15, 1911 – August 25, 1979) was a pianist, composer, and arranger who led an innovative, influential, and often controversial American jazz orchestra. In later years he was active as an educator. Kenton played in the 1930s in the dance bands of Vido Musso and Gus Arnheim, but his natural inclination was as a band leader. In 1941 he formed his first orchestra, which later was named after his theme song “Artistry in Rhythm”. By late 1943 with a Capitol Records contract, a popular record in “Eager Beaver”, and growing recognition, the Stan Kenton Orchestra was gradually catching on. Its soloists during the war years included Art Pepper, briefly Stan Getz, altoist Boots Mussulli, and singer Anita O’Day. Calling his music “progressive jazz,” Kenton sought to lead a concert orchestra as opposed to a dance band at a time when most big bands were starting to break up.
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