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Michael Sparke was born in Greater London, England, and continues to live there after retiring from teaching. He was first switched on to good music after hearing Woody Herman's First Herd in 1945, and with Stan Kenton soon afterwards via Capitol shellac 78s from America sent by a pen-pal. Collaboration with the Dutch discographer Pete Venudor resulted in the discographies Kenton on Capitol and The Studio Sessions. Sparke has written liner notes for Kenton CDs on several labels, but this is his first full historical narrative about his favourite subject.