Pianist and arranger Stan Kenton was the leader of a succession of different big bands, beginning with his Artistry in Rhythm Orchestra in 1941 during the big band boom. Through the years, the size of his bands varied, expanding to as many as 40 players, including strings, French horns, and supplemental percussion. his bands were known as the loudest big bands since he frequently employed extra bras players. Kenton's bands performed with great ensemble precision and intonation and emphasized composition over improvisation. His band continued to remain popular through the 1970s. Kenton was also one of the groundbreakers in jazz education and fostered jazz studies on many university campuses.
In 1947, Kenton hired Brazilian guitarist Larindo Almeida (b. 1917) and Latin percussion specialist Jack Costanzo (b. 1922). Kenton used a number of Latin American percussionists in his big band from the 1950's-1970's, thus incorporating Latin American drums and rhythms as a distinctive part of his band's sound.