Jazzed in Cleveland
a jazz history by Joe Mosbrook
Jazzed in Cleveland Complete Index

Part 130 - Stan Kenton in Cleveland

Story filed March 31, 2010

From time to time, we try to document the local appearances of major jazz performers. This time – Stan Kenton and his Orchestra. With the help of jazz archivist Steven D. Harris and many old newspaper clippings, here is a summary of Kenton’s many Cleveland area performances over a 35-year period:

Sept. 11-17, 1942 - Palace Theatre, East 17th and Euclid. Part of the first tour by the 30-year-old bandleader who billed his orchestra as "The first band with a sound all its own since Glenn Miller." A year before Kenton recorded his theme song "Artistry in Rhythm," the band played for a week, several times each day, between showings of a movie called Across the Pacific. Also appearing live on stage was comedienne Judy Canova.

June 15, 1943 - Bob Hope radio show on NBC from Port Clinton. The Kenton band played for Hope’s show for servicemen.

Sept. 15-21, 1944 - Palace Theatre. The band included singer Anita O’Day and instrumentalists Eddie Safranski, Vido Musso, Shelly Manne and Pete Rugolo. Carmen Miranda, Roddy McDowell and Dana Andrews also appeared on stage for the premiere of a movie called Wilson.

Sept. 17, 1944 - Stage Door Canteen, Cleveland, 1515 Euclid. While performing at the Palace, the Kenton band also played for servicemen at the Stage Door Canteen. Other bands that played there during World War II included Woody Herman, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey and Les Brown.

In 1946 a young singer named Howard Hoffman joined Kenton’s vocal group the Pastels. Hoffman was later an announcer and weatherman at Cleveland’s Channel 8.

Feb. 19, 1948 - Cleveland Music Hall, East 6th and St. Clair. The first of several Kenton concerts at the 3,100-seat hall at the rear of Cleveland’s Public Auditorium.

Sept. 25, 1948 - Cleveland Music Hall.

Mar. 16, 1950 - Cleveland Music Hall.

Oct. 6, 1951 - Cleveland Music Hall.

June 16-22, 1952 - Towne Casino, East 107th and Euclid. The club, which operated for only two years before a series of bombing incidents forced it to close, also presented the Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie bands. While in Cleveland, Kenton was interviewed June 21 on WTAM’s Joe Mulvihill show.

Oct. 17, 1952 - Cleveland Arena, 3717 Euclid Ave. At the 10,000-seat sports arena the Kenton band was part of a package show called The Biggest Show of ‘52 with Nat "King" Cole, Sarah Vaughan and others.

Dec. 1, 1952 - Western Reserve University.

Nov. 12, 1953 - Cleveland Music Hall. With singer June Christy the band took part in an all-star show called the Festival of Modern American Jazz. Also on stage were Dizzy Gillespie, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz and Slim Gaillard.

Oct. 7, 1954 - Cleveland Music Hall. The second edition of the Festival of Modern American Jazz, with Art Tatum, Charlie Ventura and Shorty Rogers.

Kenton/Tatum ad

Dec. 8, 1955 - Cleveland Music Hall. With singers Roy Hamilton and Ann Richards who later became Kenton’s wife.

Oct. 7, 1958 - Aragon Ballroom, 3179 West 25th Street. The band played for dancing at the long-running West Side ballroom.

May 21, 1961 - John Carroll University. Drummer Nick Ceroli from Warren joined the Kenton band.

June 19, 1962 - KYW-TV, 1403 East 6th Street. Kenton, without his band, was a guest on the Mike Douglas Show.

In 1964 Jiggs Whigham, a 21-year-old from Richmond Heights who had played with the Hermit Club big band in Cleveland, became Kenton’s lead trombonist for two years.

July 28, 1970 - at some unknown Cleveland venue.

Nov. 17, 1971 - Blue Grass Motor Inn, 5500 Northfield Road.

Jan. 21, 1973 - Case Western Reserve University. Wilma Salisbury wrote in Plain Dealer review: "Kenton group is vibrant in concert here."

Feb. 8, 1974 – Masonic Auditorium, East 36th and Euclid. A benefit joint concert with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Feb. 22, 1975 - Cleveland Athletic Club, 1118 Euclid Avenue.

Apr. 23, 1975 - Cleveland Heights High School, Cedar and Lee.

June 29, 1976 - Free lunchtime Concert on the downtown Mall. Part of a series of weekly outdoor concerts by top bands presented by the Cleveland Federation of Musicians.

Aug. 1, 1976 - Holiday Inn.

Oct. 30, 1976 - Cleveland Convention Center.

Jan. 29, 1977 - Case Western Reserve University.

May 19, 1977 - Case Western Reserve University. Mayor Ralph Perk proclaimed "Stan Kenton Day" in Cleveland and presented a key to the city to the bandleader. Three days later Kenton fell in a parking lot in Reading, Pa. and fractured his skull, threatening his life. Two planned appearances in Greater Cleveland in July were apparently canceled. Two years later, after suffering a stroke, Kenton died August 25, 1979 at the age of 67.

Copyright 2010 Joe Mosbrook


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