Robert Frederick Graettinger (1923 – 1957) composer/arranger Until shortly Robert Graettinger was known only to a small circle of jazz enthusiasts. His composition, ‘City of Glass’, recorded on the initiative of Stan Kenton in 1951, evoked disconcerted responses from ‘chaos’ to ‘this isn’t jazz’ to ‘Wagnerian pretentiousness’. Graettinger began his career as an alto saxophonist with several lesserknown bands in California, but he soon put his sax away because, as he said to one of his friends, “I have more to say than I can express with just one instrument”. He studied composition for a brief period at the Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles. At the age of eighteen, he showed one of his compositions to Stan Kenton, who encouraged him to continue. In 1947, Kenton added Graettinger’s ‘Thermopylae’ to the band’s repertoire. From that time onward, Graettinger, with Pete Rugolo and Bill Russo, was one of the staff arrangers for Kenton’s orchestra, which had a reputation for being ‘progressive’. Stan Kenton’s name may have lost most of its luster among today’s jazz aficionados; nevertheless, one of the most important achievements of his career is that he gave the youthful Robert Graettinger a chance to compose pieces, to make arrangements of standards, and to be part of the process when Kenton made recordings of avant-garde pieces with his orchestra. Pete Rugolo and Bill Russo composed big band pieces in the jazz tradition; Graettinger, in contrast, tried to incorporate developments from modern classical music into the big band idiom.Download booklet
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