Rifftides reader Don Frese writes:
I am now the proud owner of 9 of the 11 recordings of “Yesterdays,” the Bill Holman arrangement, by Stan Kenton featuring Bill Perkins (1924-2003) on tenor saxophone (I am missing one that was issued on a Penn State Jazz Club LP, and a recent Wolfgang’s Vault download of a French Lick Jazz Festival performance from 1958).
Perkins is simply remarkable, taking a different and interesting solo even on performances from consecutive nights (three completely different solos on April 23rd, 25th and 26th, 1956 concerts. I have heard many live recordings of famous studio cuts by big bands, and frequently they are mere paraphrases of what happened in the studio (some of Ellington’s from the 40-41 band have solos that are note for note from the studio recordings). But Perkins takes big chances every time out. My favorite was recorded on Stan’s European tour of ‘56 at Mannheim, Germany. He completely resists the temptation to repeat his earlier success, sometimes daringly so, and even manages to quote I’m Getting Sentimental Over You in the coda. What an extraordinary musician he was, and so terribly unsung.
(Photo of Perkins from the 1980s)
Of all the performances Mr. Frese has accumulated, the only Kenton recording of “Yesterdays” to be found on the web is the best known, from Kenton’s 1955 Contemporary Concepts album. Here it is, as illustrated and posted by Steve Cerra on his Jazz Profiles blog. The high-note lead trumpet toward the end is by Al Porcino.
Go here for a Rifftides appreciation of Bill Perkins.