(December 15, 1911 - August 25, 1979), was an American jazz pianist,
vocalist, and bandleader known for his innovations in jazz music. He
was born in Wichita, Kansas, but raised in California. He learned piano
as a child and toured with various bands in his teens. In 1941 he
formed his own band and reached the height of his popularity by 1953.
Many of his band arrangements (he used anywhere from 19 to 23 musicians
at a time) were written by Kenton himself, as well as other composers
such as Gene Roland, Pete Rugolo, W. A. Mathieu, and Ken Hanna. The
music made use of powerful brass sections and unconventional saxophone
voicings, demonstrating his love of experimentation. Such examples
included the various names he gave to his ensembles: "Innovations
Orchestra," "Neophonic Orchestra" and "Mellophonium Orchestra."
"Artistry in Rhythm" was Kenton's theme song throughout many recordings
and concert performances. Noted band personnel included Art Pepper,
Shelly Manne, and Buddy Childers.
Kenton's music evolved with the times throughout the 1960s and 70s, and included elements from classical music as well as rock music rhythms. His final performance was in August 1978, a year before he died.