A recording of the legendary Stan Kenton Jazz Orchestra during the 1960 — 1963 period when Stan Kenton had Conn 16E Mellophoniums in his orchestra. Mellophoniums are traditional “French horn style” mellophones with their bells straighten out to allow the sound of the horn to project directly towards the audience. Contrary to popular belief Stan Kenton was neither the inventor nor a collaborator in the invention of the mellophonium, which was an instrument already in existence for many years. Some members of the orchestra, because of the horn’s poor intonation and blaring tone, poorly received the mellophonium. However these issues were mainly the result of mellophonium players using cornet mouthpieces which are far too small and shallow for a mellophone instrument, a practice Stan Kenton quickly put a stop to. When the players switch to standard mellophone mouthpieces with diameters reaching 19mm and larger many of the issues with the horn became manageable and produced a unique tone that fitted perfectly between the saxophones, trumpets and trombones. The mellophonium is closely related to the marching mellophones used in corps, marching bands and jazz groups today. While marching mellophones are superior to the mellophoniums in many ways they still carry some of the hallmark issues that the mellophonium had such as tricky intonation and difficult tone control.
Note: Being a mellophone/mellophonium/marching mellophone player I encourage as many teachers, instructors and marching mellophone players to listen to the Stan Kenton mellophonium sound and try using alto horn mouthpieces (which are just traditional mellophone mouthpieces with trumpet shanks) in an attempt to help keep the Kenton sound alive.