Publicity for the new CD Memories of Maynard link
Below BackBeat Mag review...
Below BackBeat Mag review...
Blues and Soul Magazine Issue 1078
To some his piercing high notes on trumpet sounded like a burning pet shop, or a pod of dolphins being hit by a cruise ship! To others; his sound was unique and sent shivers down the spine. I was of the latter persuasion. Fergie was a God in my family home when I was a teenager.
His LPs were regularly played loudly. My late step-father was a pro trumpeter and his heroes were Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett and as a horn player himself; especially Maynard Ferguson.
So it was with a beaming smile I opened the Jiffie packet when this gem arrived and I spotted Ferguson’s face and trumpet in the black and white photo adoring this album.
The third in the series of these Maynard Ferguson Lost Tapes releases, it has been eight long years since the last one, but well worth waiting for. The first was released in 2007 and the second in 2008. This is the final volume of series and features rare all live recordings from 1969 to 1976 that have never been heard before.
The first two albums featured previously unreleased rehearsals, demos, and live performances. The latest is all live recordings, apart from a couple of unreleased studio sessions. But it is a mystery as to where the tracks were recorded, as no one remembers!
Ferguson came to prominence playing in Stan Kenton’s orchestra before forming his own band in 1957. He was noted for his stunning bands, and his ability to play expressively and accurately in a remarkably high register. In 1969, Ferguson moved from the USA to just outside Windsor and signed with CBS Records in England.
He formed a big band with British musicians that performed in the newly popular jazz/rock fusion style. The band's repertoire included original compositions as well as pop and rock songs rearranged into a big band format with electronic amplification.
This British band's output is represented by the four "MF Horn" albums. If you have not heard them, go find. Part of the soundtrack of my teenage years. In 1970 he led this big band on The Simon Dee Show from London Weekend Television. By 1971, Ferguson was a household name in Britain and his star continued to rise – in 1977, he scored a Top 40 pop single, “Gonna Fly Now,” (from the movie ‘Rocky’), a rare accomplishment for a jazz musician in the 1970s.
Often these “rare”, “lost” and “previously undiscovered” finds dug up from the vaults and dusted down years later, are nothing more than rejected inferior recordings and weak arrangements that the artist (s) would have preferred to have stayed lost. Not this time. The Lost Tapes Volume Three is a fitting tribute to a rare talent and well worth a listen.
He died 10 years ago, when his liver and kidneys failed because of an abdominal infection. He was 78. An extract from his obituary in the Washington Post in 2006, sums up his standing, I think:
"Ferguson lit up thousands of young horn players, most of them boys, with pride and excitement. In a (high school) world often divided between jocks and band nerds, Ferguson crossed over, because he approached his music almost as an athletic event.
“On stage, he strained, sweated, heaved and roared. He nailed the upper registers like Shaq nailing a dunk or Lawrence Taylor nailing a running back – and the audience reaction was exactly the same: the guttural shout, the leap to their feet, the fists in the air. We cheered Maynard as a gladiator, a combat soldier, a prize fighter, a circus strongman – choose your masculine archetype."
Walter Maynard Ferguson was born in 1928 and died on August 23rd 2006. He was Canadian, from Quebec but lived for most of his life in the USA, settling in California in the early 1970s. He left Stan Kenton's orchestra in 1957 to form his first band. His bands often served as stepping stones for up-and-coming talent.
He recorded dozens of albums as band leader and as side man and guest star. His first solo album was released in 1954, Maynard Ferguson's Hollywood Party on EmArcy. He was a multi instrumentalist and played trumpet, flugelhorn, firebird, trombone, valve trombone, superbone, baritone horn, French horn and soprano saxophone.
He was a rare breed; a survivor of the big band era who reinvented himself to appeal to a new young audience and stay hip, but also still attract the fans who listened to him back in the day. Great to be reminded of him and his amazing contribituion to music, with this sparkling germ of a record.
The track listing on Lost tapes Volume Three: Opening Cadenza, Maynard’s theme tune Blue Birdland, Take The ‘A’ Train which he was going to include on an album but never did, People, Living In The Past, Got The Spirit, Geller’s Cellar, Sweet Rosetta, Three More Foxes (not a song about the transfer buys at Leicester City!), Chameleon, Tommy and finally at track 12: Pagliacci.
WORDS SIMON REDLEY
Another great review from Jazz Views below:
MAYNARD FERGUSON - The Lost Tapes (Vol 3)
Sleepy Night Records SNR 004CD
Maynard Ferguson (tpt) with various line-up's from his US and British big bands of the seventies.
The ex Kenton high note trumpet man is best known to British audiences from his appearances on the Saturday night Simon Dee show some forty years ago. Blessed with an engaging personality and the ability to still sound tuneful at stratospheric levels Maynard Ferguson's popularity with the TV viewing public was almost equal to his genial host before he (Simon Dee) fell out of favour with the broadcasting authorities. So popular was this giant of the instrument that he took up residence in a fine Thames side property near Windsor for over three years so as to be on tap for his dedicated UK followers. The band leader had a massive recording output of some seventy plus albums under his own name before his death in Ventura USA at the age of 78 ten years ago. He was inaugurated into The Downbeat Jazz Hall Of Fame in 1992, being one of the very few big band leaders to have survived Rock & Roll almost unscathed.
The musical impresario Ernie Garside, over a period in excess of a decade, is largely responsible for the release of the three volumes that contain both live and studio recordings from the original "lost" archives. This album has some wonderful highlights although many of the numbers pay a little too much homage to the popular culture of the time. Thing's kick off with "Opening Cadenza" and the signature tune "Blue Birdland" both of which only remind us just how high a trumpet can be played, but little more. At the other end of the scale Strayhorn's "A Train" with a superb arrangement by Don Sebesky is full of atmosphere, drive and no little subtlety with the reeds all playing magnificently behind the leaders horn. Jule Styne and Bob Merrills "People" from Funny Girl is given the lush treatment, building tension gradually, but never releasing it, featuring the leader and Andy Macintosh on alto, both at their very best. "Geller's Cellar" with Maynard on valve trombone is another piece given the Sebesky magic to great effect. A good number of the other tracks serve only as a showcase for high note trumpet pyrotechnics, entertaining at the time, but perhaps showing their age at this distance. A re-writing of "Tommy" a rock opera by The Who is given over thirteen minutes of energetic big band treatment with another telling solo from the high note trumpet, frantic excursions from tenor and alto, all over a largely electronic rhythm section and culminating in a number of false endings leaving the listener on the edge of their seat to the very last. The recording draws to a close on an entirely different note with a trumpet rendering of an aria from "Pagliacci" full of beauty, romance and calm offering a fitting antidote to much of the high energy roller coaster ride this album offers over it's generous seventy eight minutes.
In summary a must for the many Maynard Ferguson fans, but with enough worthwhile content to lend balance to any comprehensive collection of big band jazz.
Reviewed by Jim Burlong