I've written here before about one of New York's hidden gems, the Manhattan School of Music. I try to get to all of the concerts put on by the school's Jazz Department, which is headed by my friend Justin DiCioccio, assistant dean and one of the world's top jazz educators (so says Downbeat Magazine).
Last night at MSM, I was privileged to hear some music that hasn't been publicly performed in 60 years -- the groundbreaking orchestral music of Stan Kenton.
Until last night, I thought of Stan Kenton simply as another of the popular big band leaders of the 1940s. That's true, but he stunned the music world in 1949 and into the early 50s with a type of music that is still radical today. His Innovations Orchestra melded big band jazz with modern classical music, which had rarely been done, and he added some complex and, at times, atonal sounds that made it challenging to listen to. Challenging maybe, but certainly worth it. The 48-piece MSM Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra did an outstanding job with some very tough charts.
In honor of Stan Kenton's 100th birthday, Manhattan School of Music plans another special concert that will feature better-known big band sounds of Kenton. That show (a bargain at $10; $5 for students and seniors) will be on Friday night, March 2. If you're in New York, check it out.
Info is at www.msmnyc.edu