A Special Tribute To Stan Kenton

Remembering Stan Kenton: 'September Song'
 By Ron Della Chiesa

 Some things you never forget. I・ll always remember my first day at school, my first taste of oysters and the first time I heard the Stan Kenton Band.

I was with my parents not far from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, on our summer vacation. The local DJ announced that Stan would be appearing that weekend at the Steel Pier Ballroom. Then I heard the most wonderful sounds coming from our Nash Rambler radio. "Oh it・s a long, long time from May to December. But the days grow short when you reach September." The arrangement was superb and the brass section was especially impressive. From that moment on I became a Kenton fan.

One of my favorite records was something called "Prologue." In this miniature tone poem Stan introduced the Kenton sound and the men who made it. There was the stratospheric trumpet of Maynard Ferguson, the brilliant alto saxophonist Lee Konitz and the delightful humor of trombonist Frank Rosolino. The sound was further enhanced by singer June Christy and a swinging vocal quartet known as the Four Freshmen. The band was even more impressive in person than on records. 

Once during the late fifties, I heard Stan at the Surf Ballroom on Nantasket Beach, Mass. Before the opening set began, Kenton announced that the band had been on the road for weeks and apologized for the late start. He said they were all tired but would do their best, then proceeded to blow the roof off the place! It was a night I・ll never forget. Stan is gone now and I regret never having had the opportunity to interview him on my radio show. His band remains one of the most innovative in twentieth-century American music. 

Every time I hear those poignant lyrics of Kurt Weill・s "September Song" I think of that summer many years ago and my father・s car radio. "And these few precious days I・ll spend with youKThese precious days I・ll spend with you."