REVIEW POTPOURRI – Jazz musician: Stan Kenton; Comedian: Robert Benchley; Composer: Beethoven

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Stan Kenton

Stan Kenton Presents
Capitol T248, mono lp, 1955 re-issue of original 78 singles and a ten-inch LP from 1950.

Stan Kenton

The great Stan Kenton (1911-1979) recorded a batch of singles in 1950 that highlighted the arranging and compositional skills of such SK loyalists as Shorty Rogers, Bill Russo, Frank Marks and Johnny Richards. The titles- Art Pepper, Maynard Ferguson, June Christy, etc., – feature performances by the named individual and exciting ones at that. My favorite, June Christy, has her wonderful voice all over the place, mostly humming but in her inimitably sultry manner.

Copies of the LP start at four dollars, while a few selections from the album can be accessed on youtube.

Robert Benchley

Benchley’s Best
Audio Rarities LPA 110, ten-inch LP, no date of release info anywhere, although I would guess the ‘50s because 10-inch LPs were pretty much discontinued in the US by the late ‘50s, as they were very easy to steal.

Robert Benchley

Robert Benchley (1889-1945) was a writer, a noted wit at the Algonquin Hotel Round Table, an actor, and a radio comedian.

The above LP has four skits from his radio programs, including two of his Flying Broomstick routines and a “lecture” on the history and development of swing music. In fact he begins his talk with the following:

“Tonight, I wish to lecture about the origin and development of swing music, do a survey of 17th century Italian art, and perhaps scramble some eggs…I can speak with authority on swing because I can’t carry a tune either…. The composer who is most responsible for its beginnings is Johann Gottfried Inglenook Gesundheit, who was born in Japan in 1789. It has been written that he was a backwards but friendly child and was taken out of school when he was five years old. ”

Two more – “Why don’t you get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?” and “All it takes to make a monkey of a man is to quote him!”

Benchley died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1945 at 56. His son, Nathaniel Benchley (1915-1981) wrote children’s books and a bio of his father, while his grandson, Peter (1940-2006), authored the novel and screenplay, Jaws.

Three copies of the LP are priced from $49 to $75 through Amazon and none of it is available through YouTube, although there are other Bentleys on YouTube in plentiful supply!


Piano Sonatas 7, 9, 30, and 31
Awadagin Pratt, pianist; EMI 7243 5 55290 2 2, CD, recorded 1994.

Awadagin Pratt

Three of these four Sonatas – 7, 30 and 31 are huge favorites of mine, especially 7 with one eloquent second movement Largo that raises goosebumps on my arm every time I hear it. The Pittsburg-born pianist, Awadagin Pratt now 52, gives performances that mix gentle lyricism, the required virtuosity and an interesting silky type of phrasing at odd moments. Other than that, he plays in a straightforward, very honest manner that conveys a genuine love for these works. And they are well worth getting to know.

The entire CD can be heard on YouTube and is priced inexpensively on Amazon.


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