The influence of Stan Kenton has not been foreign to the Blue Devils. Two separate worlds that in a peculiar dance of coincidence continue to leave an imprint on audiences worldwide. According to Ted Gioia in his book The History of Jazz, "The strong willed Kenton, forged an orchestra in his own image: as massive as his six-foot-and-a-half tall frame, as expansive as his personal aspirations, as varied as his moods." He continues later to describe his ambition as "a need to create important music, jazz music on a larger scale than anyone had envisioned before".
Kenton's orchestra was much more than a rich presentation of star soloist; he also advocated the works of new composers and embraced any opportunity to explore artistic contrast. The Kenton orchestra first performed Bob Graettinger's music in 1948. Although he was called a complete original where the past sprang forth within the present to create the future, Bob Graettinger's work mirrored his self-description of "living above the timberline". The work of Graettinger and Kenton, especially The City of Glass, so challenged convention that it was vastly under-valued. Fortunately, the benefit of time can often bring a new understanding and appreciation of what was once so misaligned.
Ultimately, it is the sensibility of the entire City of Glass album that informs the 2010 Blue Devils production of Through A Glass, Darkly. Performing in an ever-changing city of glass and mirror, the Blue Devils continue to explore and discover visual possibilities outside the norm. Through reflected light and the prism of color the future unfolds. The Blue Devils honor Graettinger and Kenton's innovation with a reflection of the past that defines our present and heralds the future.
"For now we see ...... through a glass, darkly"
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