Photography by Scott Belck.

Photography by Scott Belck.

CCM’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band explore the Neophonic sounds of legendary and sometimes controversial jazz bandleader Stan Kenton in a tribute concert to the biggest-sounding big band of all time at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, in Corbett Auditorium.

Faculty artist and Kenton alumnus John Von Ohlen joins CCM’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band for this exciting tribute concert. Scott Belck and Dominic Marino conduct.One of Stan Kenton’s many trademarks of performance was the transition to a concert jazz orchestra to create a wall of sound. This was unique during Kenton’s heyday, when many jazz bands were downsizing or dissolving due to conscription at the onset of World War II. Kenton continued in this vein and expanded it throughout his life, moving from 19- to 39-piece bands, mellophonium bands in the 1960s and eventually expanding his “progressive jazz” into a style that still influences jazzers today. His aim to explore emotional new harmonies, rather than recreate the traditional big-band sounds of artists like Count Basie, has polarized the opinions of his music. The “Kenton style” is still widely taught to big-band jazz students and the jazz clinic as it is understood today hearkens back to Kenton’s teachings as a pianist, composer and arranger.

CCM Jazz drums instructor and faculty artist John Von Ohlen knows all about Kenton’s influence on jazz, having spent two years on the road with his famous Stan Kenton Orchestra. “It was my dream to play with Stan Kenton,” he explains. “He was a great leader, and he gave me all the confidence I ever needed.” In fact, it was Kenton himself who dubbed the moniker that followed Von Ohlen for the rest of his career: the Baron. “I don’t know why he did it,” says Ohlen. “Everybody’s named John, but there’s only one Baron. I have no idea where he got it from.”

Due to Kenton’s widespread influence not only on the sound of jazz in the mid-20th century but to the teaching of jazz theory, CCM’s Jazz department hopes to pay tribute to this visionary. The Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band, along with John Von Ohlen, will play the hits of Kenton’s storied songbook. Selections include “A Little Minor Booze,” “Intermission Riff,” “Malaguena” and much more of the power and excitement that is the music of Stan Kenton.

About John Von Ohlen
Adjunct Instructor of Jazz Drums John “the Baron” Von Ohlen has been on faculty at CCM since 1985. He studied trombone and piano with Bob Phillips and took part in the prestigious University of North Texas lab band program in 1960. He was drummer and featured soloist with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Ralph Marterie Orchestra and Billy Maxted Orchestra, touring and recording with each ensemble. He led his own quartet, which recorded for Creative World. He has played extended tours with Urbie Green, Holiday on Ice, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney and many others, and was active for four seasons in Broadway pit orchestras. Since 1976, he has led the Blue Wisp Big Band in Cincinnati and recorded five LPs. A member of the Steve Schmidt Trio, he has recorded numerous albums with artists such as Cal Collins, Maxine Sullivan, Keith Jarrett, Carmen McRae, John Clayton, Francy Boland and Benny Carter with the WDR Radio Orchestra and at the Berlin Jazz Festival. He toured Japan and recorded with Mel Torme and Marty Paich Orchestra.

View Modern Drummer Magazine’s recent profile of Von Ohlen here.

Performance Time:
4 p.m. Sunday, March 11

Corbett Auditorium, College-Conservatory of Music
University of Cincinnati

Tickets & Parking Information
Tickets to the Stan Kenton Tribute Concert are $12 for general admission, $5 for non-UC students and free for UC students with valid ID. Parking is available in the CCM Garage (at the base of Corry Boulevard off of Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. For complete ticket and parking information, visit or call the CCM Box Office at 513-556-4183.

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Jazz Series Sponsor: Christopher Dietz & Family and Jamey Aebersold Jazz


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