Jiggs Whigham leads Kenton Prom, 7/9

Jiggs Whigham

The main jazz event at this year's Proms at the Royal Albert Hall is trombonist Jiggs Whigham (pictured right) conducting the BBC Big Band with singer Claire Martin in a programme of music to celebrate the centenary of Stan Kenton. Born in Cleveland, Ohio on 20 August 1943, Whigham was first and solo trombonist with Stan Kenton in the early 60s.

In contrast to some previous Proms jazz offerings, this year's jazz centrepiece has an appropriately classical aspect as well as combining British talent with a recognition of jazz's American roots.

The BBC describe the Kenton band as the "biggest jazz attraction in the world" in the late 1940s and early 1950s, while observing that "Kenton's penchant for complex and highly structured work could run counter to the expectations of critics and audiences alike."

The Proms concert, on 7 September, 10.15pm-c11.30pm, will feature both Kenton's jazz work and some of his classical arrangements.

Jiggs Whigham told Jazz Journal as the Proms launched that the programme has yet to be decided but will most likely feature some of these:

Vocals: All About Ronnie, Daydream and A Lot Of Livin' To Do (all three original Kenton material) and one or two of Claire's existing material.

Band only: Artistry In Rhythm, Artemis And Apollo, My Old Flame, Malaguena, Yesterday, Stella By Starlight, Stompin' At The Savoy, Limehouse Blues, I'll Be Around and selections from The Cuban Fire Suite.

Jiggs added: "My experience with Stan was in 1963. It was a fantastic time, and one of the things we did was tour the UK. That experience led in part to my settling in Europe. I look forward to presenting the music of Stan Kenton to the Proms audience. I'm sure it will be a great event!"

Jiggs did though have reservations about one aspect of the 1963 band, the so-called Mellophonium Band, voiced in Jazz Journal some years ago: "The most difficult thing I had to do playing first trombone in that band was to try to estimate where the pitch was going to be with the mellophoniums. It varied within roughly an octave on any given day!"

A lot more on Kenton's life and work can be seen in Graham Carter's new DVD documentary Artistry In Rhythm: Portrait Of A Jazz Legend, available here and recently reviewed in Jazz Journal.

More on the Proms at bbc.co.uk/proms.


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