Stan Kenton: Gee, Officer Krupke


Gee, Officer Krupke


Stan Kenton (piano)


Kenton's West Side Story (Capitol Jazz/Blue Note 29914)

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Stan Kenton (piano),

Dalton Smith, Sanford Skinner, Bud Brisbois, Bob Rolfe, Conte Candoli, Ernie Bernhardt (trumpets), Bob Fitzpatrick, Jack Spurlock, Jim Amlotte, Dave Wheeler (trombones), Clive Acker (tuba), Dwight Carver, Gene Roland, Keith LaMotte, Gordon Davison (mellophoniums), Gabe Baltazar (alto sax), Sam Donahue, Paul Renzi (tenor saxes), Marvin Holladay (baritone sax), Wayne Dunstan (baritone & bass saxes), Pete Chivily (bass), Jerry McKenzie (drums), Lou Singer (tympani), George Acevedo (bongos, congas)


Composed by Leonard Bernstein; arranged by Johnny Richards


Recorded: Hollywood, CA, April 11, 1961


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Kenton's West Side Story is how it was cover-billed, and like most Kenton projects this one divided the jazz audience. Stan's fans and those who liked Latin Jazz (especially as arranged by Johnny Richards) embraced the album, and indeed it won a Grammy that year. But Kenton's critics never let up, and there's enough bulk and bombast to stoke the naysayers too. Dynamic, exciting, sometimes melodramatic, yet lyrical, even danceable, the album bristles with energy, as big and busy as Bernstein's original: shaping showstoppers in "Prologue," "America" and "Cool," and wafting ballads as mellophoniously soaring as those odd brass horns (neither French nor 'bone) could make them.

Even "Gee, Officer Krupke" a bobbing-and-weaving bit of sarcastic comic relief in the musical in the Kenton/Richards version moves from cool to intense, with rhumba and ranting en route. The tune saunters in, sounding as mellow as a Peter Gunn floater, but drama soon arrives, Conte Candoli's solo trumpet atop brass and mellophonium comments (the poor street punks all misunderstood). Tension starts to build, then eases back for a section of slow rhumba, which becomes frantic Latin drumming, and suddenly every section screams out in true Kenton fashion, all the guys shouting right up to the final, unexpectedly downplayed, "Krup-you." (But, then, Stan was a notorious straight arrow.)

Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher

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