Friday, August 21, 2009

After Hours

Stan Kenton. The Peanut Vendor

This was filmed in London in 1972 and boy, I apologize for those band uniforms. They're like leisure suits with the arms cut off. Are they brown or maroon? Either way, they're just ghastly. But we're not here to marvel at their attire. I have always loved Kenton's take on this tune. It started life as a harmless Cuban novelty tune that was done by the likes of Perez Prado, Desi Arnaz and many others, but some arranger thought it would be kind of fun to go all late-20th-century all over it by adding these loud, blocky trumpet clusters and other dissonant moments, and golly did that ever work well. The best version is on Kenton in Hi-Fi. For that, Stan put together the best band he ever had. That version is little different; there isn't any flute and the trumpet part is slightly more volatile. This version is minus all those guys, but they still deliver a great performance (even though the ending is kind of lame). Overall, though, it really makes up for all that dreadful "third stream" stuff he did in the fifties and sixties.

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