22 July 2005 | carmike
Kenton's band at full blast
"Let's Make Rhythm" is a 20-minute compilation of some of Stan Kenton's greatest tunes (Artistry In Rhythm, Concerto To End All Concertos, Tampico et al.), wrapped in a pleasant, but not overly ambitious plot about a sailor and a soundies-box girl who only know each other's voice, but have never met face to face. There are the inevitable complications, but in the end, the girl gets her man (or vice versa, depending on one's point of view). The purpose of this movie, however, is to highlight the Stan Kenton Orchestra and the glorious, exciting music of his "Artistry In Rhythm" period in the mid-1940s. Shot in 1947, we get to see - and hear - such fine artists as the charming and talented singer June Christy, drummer Shelly Manne, bass player Eddie Safranski, tenor sax player Bob Cooper and the many other superb musicians that made up Kenton's powerhouse band. Needless to say, watching a very youthful-looking Stan "The Man" Kenton himself, dressed in a sharp-looking dark suit and pounding the piano in his inimitable manner is a real pleasure for any Kenton fan and for any lover of jazz, swing and big band music in general. Kenton even gets a few lines of dialog. All in all, "Let's Make Rhythm" is a most welcome opportunity to watch and hear the Kenton Band in its heyday. The movie is available on DVD and VHS (from Storyville Films), together with soundies featuring other swing-era name bands like Artie Shaw, Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. If you like swing music, this is for you.