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Kenton, (Stanley Newcomb) Stan(1912–79) musician; born in Wichita, Kans. He was raised in Los Angeles, where he played piano in several lesser-known big bands throughout the 1930s and with Vido Musso in 1938–39. In 1940, he formed his own orchestra which won wide acclaim for its unusual theme song, "Artistry in Rhythm," and its mild experimentations in a self-described "progressive jazz" style. He disbanded in 1947 and spent three years in retirement. He attracted notoriety in 1950–52 with a 40-piece orchestra which he billed as "Innovations in Modern Music," playing composed avant-garde works as well as jazz. From 1952 until his death, he led a standard jazz big band, although his 1964 recording, Kenton Plays Wagner, and his 1966 Neophonic Orchestra were further experiments in symphonic jazz. He was also a pioneer in jazz education, conducting over 100 clinics annually throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.