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Published: Thursday, 4/13/2006

Kenton tribute to wrap up series

The annual tribute to jazz iconoclast Stan Kenton by the Toledo Jazz Orchestra on Saturday will feature Bowling Green State University's Russell Schmidt as director.

An accomplished pianist, composer, and arranger, Schmidt is director of Jazz Activity at BGSU. He noted in a news release that Kenton's great bands weren't just about the players.

"Kenton's band was certainly filled with many marvelous performers," he said in the release. "But it was also a group blessed with exceptional writers, overseen by Kenton, a fine composer/arranger himself."

He cited such writers as Bill Holman, Willie Maiden, and Lennie Niehaus.

A pianist himself, Kenton discovered such talents as Art Pepper and Maynard Ferguson. He was known for his complex rhythms and sometimes bombastic arrangements.

He formed his first band in 1940 and by the mid-'40s his band was playing at such places as the Philadelphia Academy of Music and Boston's Symphony Hall, becoming controversial for breaking from some of the tenets of swing established by more mainstream acts like the Count Basie Orchestra.

Kenton also spent a significant part of his career providing his music to high school bands and promoting music education. He died in 1979 at the age of 67.

The Toledo Jazz Orchestra's salute to Stan Kenton will be at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Franciscan Theatre and Conference Center of Lourdes College, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Tickets for the final concert of the 2005-06 Harold Jaffe Concert Series are $22 for TJO members, $25 for nonmembers, and $5 for students. Information: 419-241-5299.

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