Stan Kenton & June Christy: Prelude to a Kiss
Composed by Duke Ellington, Irving Gordon and Irving Mills.
Recorded: Los Angeles, May 1955
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
Stan Kenton is sometimes dismissed by his critics as the king of bombast. And in truth, Kenton often went for super-size when others would opt for Slim-Fast. But this session showcases the subtle side of Kenton, matched up in intimate piano-voice duets with June Christy. The setting gives us a chance to enjoy the pianist's rich harmonic palette, often lost amidst the juggernaut of his big band. At times on this track he sounds positively Ellingtonian. But Christy is the party who benefits most from Kenton's unilateral disarmament. Her voice blossoms in the open spaces and fresh air, and one can't help wishing that she had done more recordings of this sort. As it stands, the Duet project is one of her finest moments of the 1950s.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia