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Maynard Ferguson

When he debuted with Stan Kenton's Orchestra in 1950, Maynard Ferguson could play higher than any other trumpeter up to that point in jazz history, and he was accurate. Somehow he kept most of that range through his career and since the 1970s has been one of the most famous musicians in jazz. Never known for his exquisite taste (some of his more commercial efforts are unlistenable), Ferguson nevertheless led some important bands and definitely made an impact with his trumpet playing.

After heading his own big band in Montreal, Ferguson came to the United States in 1949 with hopes of joining Kenton's orchestra, but that ensemble had just recently broke up. So instead, Ferguson gained experience playing with the big bands of Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey, and Charlie Barnet. In 1950, with the formation of Kenton's Innovations Orchestra, Ferguson became a star, playing ridiculous high notes with ease. In 1953, he left Kenton to work in the studios of Los Angeles and three years later led the all-star "Birdland Dreamband." In 1957, he put together a regular big band that lasted until 1965, recorded regularly for Roulette (all of the band's recordings with that label are on a massive Mosaic box set) and performed some of the finest music of Ferguson's career. Such players as Slide Hampton, Don Ellis, Don Sebesky, Willie Maiden, John Bunch, Joe Zawinul, Joe Farrell, Jaki Byard, Lanny Morgan, Rufus Jones, Bill Berry, and Don Menza were among the more notable sidemen.

After economics forced him to give up the impressive band, Ferguson had a few years in which he was only semi-active in music, spending time in India and eventually forming a new band in England. After moving back to the U.S., Ferguson in 1974 drifted quickly into commercialism. Young trumpeters in high school and colleges were amazed by his high notes, but jazz fans were dismayed by the tasteless recordings that resulted in hit versions of such songs as the themes from Star Wars and Rocky and much worse. After cutting back on his huge orchestra in the early '80s, Ferguson recorded some bop in a 1983 session, led a funk band called High Voltage during 1987-1988, and then returned to jazz with his "Big Bop Nouveau Band," a medium-sized outfit with which he toured the world up until his death from kidney and liver failure on August 23, 2006. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Wow! The Formative Years

1. Diz Duz Everything

2. Body And Soul

3. All The Things You Are

4. Maynard Ferguson

5. Take The "A" Train

6. Short Wave

7. Love Locked Out

8. The Band Ain't Draggin'

9. The Hot Canary

10. What's New?

11. King's Riff

12. Wow!

13. The Way You Look Tonight

14. All God's Chillun Got Rhythm

15. Over The Rainbow

16. Hymn To Her

17. Wonder Why

18. C'est La Blues

19. Mrs. Pitlack Regrets

20. Maynard The Fox

21. The Wailing Boat

22. Say It With Trumpets

23. Everybody Moan

24. You Said It


Track List: This Is Jazz #16

1. Birdland

2. Everybody Loves The Blues

3. MacArthur Park

4. The Fox Hunt (Live)

5. The Cheshire Cat Walk (Feat. Mark Colby)

6. 'Round Midnight

7. Gospel John

8. Gonna Fly (Theme From Rocky)


Track List: Jazz Masters 52

1. King's Riff

2. Maiden Voyage

3. Willie Nillie

4. Hymn To Her

5. The Way You Look Tonight

6. Can't We Talk It Over

7. Egad, Martha

8. Dancing Nitely

9. The Lamp Is Low

10. Dreamboat

11. Pork Pie

12. Never You Mind

13. Love Me Or Leave Me

14. Moonlight In Vermont

15. Easy To Love

16. Wild Man


Track List: M.F. Horn

1. Eli's Comin'

2. Ballad To Max

3. MacArthur Park

4. Chala Nata

5. If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind

6. L-Dopa


Track List: Ridin' High

1. The Rise And Fall Of Seven

2. Light Green

3. Kundalini Woman

4. Sunny

5. Meet A Cheetah

6. Molecules

7. Wack-Wack

8. Stan Speaks

9. Alfie


Track List: Maynard Ferguson Octet

1. Finger Snappin'

2. My New Flame

3. Autumn Leaves

4. Inter-Space

5. 20, Rue De Madrid

6. Super-G

7. What Was Her Name?

8. Yeah


Track List: 50 Jazz Essentials

3. Dancing Nitely

5. Egad, Martha

6. What Was Her Name

8. Finger Snappin'

17. C'est La Blues

19. Yeah

20. My New Flame

24. 20, Rue De Madrid

25. Super-G

27. Dreamboat

31. Autumn Leaves

35. Pork Pie

39. Mrs. Pitlack Regrets

41. Wonder Why

44. Inter-Space

46. Never You Mind


Track List: Big Bop Nouveau

1. Blue Birdland


Track List: Body & Soul

1. Expresso

2. Body & Soul

3. M.O.T.

4. Mira Mira

5. Last Dive

6. Beautiful Hearts

7. Central Park

8. Flight 108

9. Blues From Space

10. M.O.T. (Alternate Version)


Track List: Primal Scream

1. Primal Scream

2. The Cheshire Cat Walk

3. Invitation

4. Pagliacci

5. Swamp


Track List: Straight Up

Disc 1

2. Somebody Wants Me Down There

3. Maynard The Fox

6. Lady Bug

7. More West

10. Rosebud

11. Button Nose

12. Little Girl Kimbi

Disc 2

7. Say It With Trumpets

8. Everybody Moan

10. You Said It


Track List: The New Sounds Of Maynard Ferguson / Come Blow Your Horn

1. Take The "A" Train


Track List: The One And Only Maynard Ferguson

1. Without A Song

2. Besame Mucho

3. Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone

4. Vita Bella

5. Dr. Fox Ph.D.

6. Lost Horizons

7. Surviving Soho

8. The Days Of Wine And Roses

9. Darn That Dream


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Tasteless? Hooey. Ferguson was an entertainer who brought joy and amazement to millions, especially other trumpeters and brass musicians.
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Respectfully , I've spent many hours listening to Maynard's tasteless recordings. MacArthur Park is a classic! And his concerts were phenomenal! Maynard also took time to mentor young musicians in high school workshops all across the nation. He was deeply interested in helping the next generation develop a love for music. What a dazzling trumpet player!
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jerrylamonic a
Jerry L. Many trumpet players could hit high notes but Maynard actually played up there with fat quality high notes. Not just squeaks and squeals.
No one could do it like him. Get A message from bird land or live at Newport.
He was truly unique. And what a personality.
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16 years old fist chair trombone. front row seats and us blown away
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Yes, I for one loved Rocky and Star Trek versions great records. .
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1974- a 14 year old kid- first concert ever- Maynard and his orchestra opening for Buddy Rich and his orchestra. Felt Forum- Madison Square Garden..... Jazz fan forever! Best concert ever!!
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Ferguson's "Live at Jimmy's" album in 1974 was a work of art.
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Mr. Yanow, your credential s are impeccable , therefore your opinion is always noteworthy . However you may have not credited Mr. Ferguson with his greatest accomplish m e n t because it is so indelibly linked with that commercial music you disdain. That commercial music as Maynard played it was very much responsibl e for bringing big band jazz back from the brink of extinction . Maynard was to Jazz, Pavarotti was to Opera as Hulk Hogan was to Profession a l
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Mr. Yanow, your credentials are impeccable, therefore your opinion is always noteworthy. However you may have not credited Mr. Ferguson with his greatest accomplishme n t because it is so indelibly linked with that commercial music you disdain. That commercial music as Maynard played it was very much responsible for bringing big band jazz back from the brink of extinction. Maynard was to Jazz, Pavarotti was to Opera as Hulk Hogan was to Professional wrestling, the saviors of their art.
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darenunlimit e d
I love his version of Rocky!
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leids54..... . . . . . . . t o add to my last s t e r d a y I turned 85 years of age and am still enjoying all of Maynards work along with Frank Sinatra,Coun t Basie. We sure are lucky to have lived thru that era.
Maynard....y o u were the top along with Stan Kenton...THA N K S
Report as inappropriate add to the concert in Mansfield, Pa..they al came thru a snow storm and had wet feet due to the lack of proper shoes as they left the bus to play the gig.It didn't matter to them they played in bare feet.What a thrill it was to see Maynard riding an upturned table playing his heart out.
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leids54 I first saw Maynard play with Stan Kentons band in an old barn around 1950 in Bethlehem Pa. That night is unforgettabl e . We rocked so much they disallowed any more bands there due to the safety hazards of the floor caving in.
My next viewing with Maynard and company was around the early 70s at Mansfield State College Oh what a night.The band filled on stage bare footed and they carried Maynard in on a table turned upside down and he was playing his heart out . unforgettabl e ! ! ! !
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Hey fatboyjace, I agree with you...They need to get off their high horse on that bio.......Ma y n a r d was the MAN!!! But, I still love Doc too...Just imagine both of them together in concert on the same stage, OMG!!!
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Saw Maynard about 30 times. Loved to bring someone along who had never heard him and watch their amazement. Went to the memorial concert in St. Louis. What a night, sigh!
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Yes Stella by starlight how can you play that song like that just amazing
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Awesome trumpeter for many generations. Love his big band modern version of Stella by Starlight. Totally blew me away when I first heard it. He will surely be missed, but his music lives on.
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Though I was not born in that era, I --People if you can listen to big band misic and not feel happy, tap your feet or play air drums or the like , there is something wrong with you.
Just sayin'
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This might be the most uneducated and biased bio I have ever read. I get it you didn't like his music but obviously millions of us did. Get over your posturing and open your mind to different musical interpretati o n s . Believe it or not, that is what jazz and swing is all about.
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My high school idol, with Buddy Rich, Bill Chase. He entertained and made the world a better place. Taps for Maynard-RIP
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This bio is a joke. Never known for his exquisite taste (some of his more commercial efforts are unlistenable ) . . . w h o are you to say that his taste wasn't exquisite just because he liked more than just what you claim to be jazz. There's a reason they were commercially successful; they appealed to a much larger audience. Maynard clearly enjoyed playing many different genres, not just jazz. Get off your high horse!
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colbarbkranz 5
MacArthurPar k ? Helloo? Maynard's version is beyond comparison! As IS, this great artist! Sadly missed, fondly remembered!!
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Greatness! Thank you.
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No one could play like Maynard no one Maynard unique sound will never ever be replicated he was simply REDICULOUS.
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God Bless Maynard! He's with the Angels now. He's a friend since 1950 when I saw him at the Opera House in Chicago with Stan Kenton Innovations and later met personally every time he visited the Chicago Area in later years. He's a wonderful person with super-talent and a great smile! I'm lucky to have had this experience!!
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Our HS stage band played MF's MacArthur Park, Chameleon and Gospel John in the mid 70's. Although we had learned swing and jazz music from the 20's on, we loved the (then) modern sound and power of MF's style. I was a sax player, and I liked the fact, not often mentioned, that MF surrounded himself with good players, and let them work. It really wasn't just his star vehicle I, for one, appreciate his dedication to educating high school and college musicians. I definitely benefited.
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Maynard did one thing - upper register. He was the best at that. PERIOD (nod to Bill Chase). Saw him in the 70's, 80's, and last heard him play in St. Louis in 2001. Severinson was much better all around, but that wasn't what MF did, nor did he pretend to. Going to hear MF play was like going to a very eclectic restaurant - you didn't get music for the masses, you got HIM. BTW, this profile is, um, questionable . His commercial recordings were not unlistenable , but not gems, either. GREAT MAN
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Sorry jp but doc was good but hos range maxed out at about a double A even when I seen ferguson he was 75 years old and still have a solid double C. In his prime he could go to a triple c. Something doc has not or will ever be able to do...

As far as range Cat Anderson , Arturo Sandoval , Jon faddis and Roger ingram are just as good as ferguson
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I like Maynard a lot. But Doc Severinson had much better tone and control in the high register.
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Maynard was the genuine article. A man who loved his work and performed it with passion and power for decades. Count me among those who was fortunate enough to meet him and see him perform several times over the years. In this I also commend Woody Herman, who easily could have done the nostalgia thing, but instead continued to foster new generations of contemporary artists, as did Maynard.
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Maynard need more likes!!!!!!
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Just purchased a French LeBlanc trumpet , Gozzo Model. Beautiful.
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MF was amazing on Ballads. People, Maria, Somewhere, etc.
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Used to play Maynard's charts while at Carnegie Mellon University playing under Randy Purcell. A real blast!
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Big band 40's feel..friday night fish fry...
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Got to see MF play with his High Voltage combo at a local high school in 1988. Quite a memorable experience - I believe he was in his early 60s at that time and his energy level on stage was incredible. What a great way to influence the younger generation - doing his part to keep jazz alive.
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I witnessed a great concert in '74 in San Franciso at the Great American Music Hall. The band entered from off stage through the audience and exited the same way. They marched in and out playing full blast and put on an absolutely amazing jaw-dropping performance! He was my fav. no 1 big band from that day on, with Buddy Rich's band a close 2nd.
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trumpet chops not easy to maintain w/age! Agree with the some unlistenable , but there's an album M.F. Horn 3 smokin' hot, non-commerci a l , Very Tasty. Tracks Awright,Awri g h t Round Midnight(awe s o m e ) Nice N Juicy Pocahontas Love Theme from the Valachi Papers Mother Fingers and S.O.M.F on M.F.Horn | 3, keep an eye out for those! (couldnt even buy it on CD until a few years ago...) Oh's also fun to listen to his M.F.Superbon e (valve trombone), RIP Bill Chase also!
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saw Maynard numerous times...noth i n g but high energy,sure he wasnt technically tight at times but because of his commercial crossover tunes, that unlistenable music brought in a lot of people to Jazz. i actually still like some of that stuff to this day.unfair review. @Dr_illini
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I got to see him right before he passed away. he played a concert at David Douglas High School and I got a copy of chameleon signed from him. Him and his band were incredible.
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Wow a lot of found memories playing my trumpet. Skipping class to go down to the music room, put the headphones, get one of the many charts we played of his, and played along. All 5 of us had silver trumpets and Maynard was our hero. We won every competition we entered except one in L.A. In that one, (second) my friend and our screaming lead trumpet player, Danny Kirsop, was given Maynards MF Horn, after Maynard played Give it One then made Danny take the MF and play Hey Jude with his orche
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I saw Maynard play at my school in ~1996. He was incredible.
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Maynard actually came to my High School in the 1970's, played in the auditorium and wowed a bunch of freaks, motorheads, jocks and geeks. Well, at least I was wowed.
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Take the reviewer and shoot him. Maynard was the "Brass Player of the Century". Nobody had his sound, or ability.
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I grew up - musically - in 1973 through 1983 playing trumpet. When I first heard MF, I was totally floored - I couldn't get enough. I figured out how to do some of the things Maynard did - I could even hit a double-C by the time I was in college and played lead in our Jazz band for 2+ years. Other trumpet performers may have been better technically, or even musically, but today I always go back to Maynard as my idol. I still can't get enough of him. His is greatly missed - nothing like him today
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Could some of you fellow Maynard fans join me in requesting some of his (and Woody Herman & Buddy Rich's) jazz-rock albums from the 1970s? This will only work if you flood the following address with emails: suggest-musi c @ p a n d o r a . c o m
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I was able to see Maynard, Bill Chase and Doc, as well as other great trumpeters while growing up. I even got to play Bill Chase's horn a few weeks before he died. A former classmate of mine, Dave Monette built several trumpets for Maynard. We all loved him, and he was a major motivator for us. He had a level of musical heart and soul few achieve.
His music touched you is fantastic ways. Did he have imperfection s ? Maybe. So what! His goods so outshined the bads that the bads disappear.
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Glossing over the early 70's work as merely forming a new band in England is absurd. Maynard put together incredible bands during that period that included Randy Jones, Bruce Johnstone, Stan Mark, Pete Jackson, Tony Buchanon, Bob Summers, and Lin Biviano. Later in the 70's, Chameleon and other albums had great bands with great arrangements . Reviewers who dismiss this work as commercialis m sound like the folks who criticized Miles and Bob Dylan when they moved forward musically.
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luckysignsho p
Have been reading over many of the comments and am reminded of the enormous impact Maynard had on the jazz world and young people in particular. My recollection is that what brought him back from England was the huge success of the MacArthur Park album and the popularity of MacArthur Park on the Pop charts. If that's commercialis m then I thank him for it.
Life-long fan
Report as inappropriate
Scott Yanow, this is a miserable review by someone who was most certainly not a fan. Pandora please remove this review and allow a true fan give an honest portrayal of the artists work. Maynard has influenced generations of budding musicans particularly by reaching out to those teenagers of the 80's of which I was one! Had it not been for Maynard I dare say hundreds of thousands of trumpet players through the 70's, 80's and 90's would've never picked up a horn. What has Scott done that compares?
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