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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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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!!
hpj3mooney
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.
totes not making this up:
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorow will be the best day of your life however if you don't post this you will die in two days. Now you started reading this so don't stop . This is so scary put this on at least 5songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
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
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
I like Maynard a lot. But Doc Severinson had much better tone and control in the high register.
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.
Maynard need more likes!!!!!!
Just purchased a French LeBlanc trumpet , Gozzo Model. Beautiful.
MF was amazing on Ballads. People, Maria, Somewhere, etc.
rabauman4
Used to play Maynard's charts while at Carnegie Mellon University playing under Randy Purcell. A real blast!
Big band 40's feel..friday night fish fry...
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.
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.
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 and....it's also fun to listen to his M.F.Superbon e (valve trombone), RIP Bill Chase also!
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
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.
gabrunelle
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
mikeadkins
I saw Maynard play at my school in ~1996. He was incredible.
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.
Take the reviewer and shoot him. Maynard was the "Brass Player of the Century". Nobody had his sound, or ability.
bedwards2k
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
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
jfrancis12
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.
glenn.colby
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.
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
artharrison2
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?
There will never be another with Maynard's talent. Last saw him in Fort Worth, Texas. The artist that comes closest to reaching his musical pedestal is Arturo Sandoval from Cuba! Kenton's nurturing influence is evident in Maynard;s early playing.
I had the pleasure of seeing him live 3 times, and my HS Jazz band (like many others) opened for him, what a great experience. The man had a huge influence on my playing, and my love of music in general. I've got to agree with the review though, some of that 70's stuff isn't exactly inspired or tasteful. What it is though, is HUGELY fun, and having fun is what gets people exciting about something!
kalkan4
Same here, goldy. The only time I saw him was in High School around 1981 where he played in a High School auditorium near us. I still play my favorite album, Chameleon, on vinyl from time to time. Nothing better than hearing Gospel John coming off the platter.
goldy3570
Our high school jazz band in the 1970s idolized Maynard. We played lots of his charts and bought his albums of that era. Our first chair trumpet emulated Maynard's high notes with some success. We nicknamed him, of course, Maynard. I am enjoying discovering his charts from the '50s and '60s on Pandora.
patedk
His technical ability often made the listener overlook his
considerable improvisator y talent.
I first saw Maynard in 1966 at the Lambertville Music Circus in NJ and it was love at first note. I've been a fan ever since.Tremen d o u s talent. How he could go from those high notes to a lower note and back with such clarity still amazes me
Lori.Grosse, you may have heard Don Ellis' recording of Eli's Comin' on the radio. The first time I heard it I thought it was Maynard's band. http://www.y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = a J D a 9 u S i r - w
His commercial stuff was good, but charts like Birdland, or Maria, blow them all away. So by comparison, his commercial stuff was weak.
Fox Hunt always blows me away! That band really cooked!
jjfjaf
I first heard Maynard in Kenton's PROLOGUE (This is an orchestra) where each sideman is introduced in a creative way. Kenton states that some musicians create great sounds of fire and states he's glad to have such a musician. After that I was amazed and hooked .
lori.grosse
HA! I pulled up this station in order to hear the commercial stuff the reviewer hates. Shows how bad the review is, and how great Maynard was. I specifically wanted to hear Eli's Coming as I heard another version of it on the radio the other day. I thought he did it first...
stupid review person....
everybody Ive played Gonna Fly Now or the theme from Star Trek have fallen in love with Maynard, he is the best trumpeter ever. He was amazing and everyone loved him. My dad played some of his albums, Conquistador , MF Horn 2. AMAZING music. His commercializ e d music is just as good as his other music. and MacArthur Park has is the best trumpet song of all time. If you go to http://www.w a l t e r w h i t e . c o m / m a y n a r d . h t m you can find the version of taps played at his funeral RIP
I loved the theme songs he played in the 70's. And I only listened to them when I was a kid I the 90's after finding my Dad's CD.
wearehavingf u n
He was, and still is, one of the greatest horn players. He has influenced several generations of jazz musicians, and will continue to do so. He was kind; and loved to teach...he showed how cool music is~
wearehavingf u n
First saw MF in concert in Towne Hall NYC in 1971. Last saw him in concert at FIU in Miami where he performed with Arturo Sandaval, just months before his death.
I played trumpet from 1977 to 1985 and still do from time to time, I saw Maynard in concert twice and he was phenomenal, He was and always will be my Trumpet Idol, Long live the King Of The Trumpet.
Yes, this review is a let down to me. Being a high school trumpet player i look up to maynard and model my playing after his, and it has gotten me quite far, matching his playing style and trying to reach his godly range. The writer of this biography was obviously not a trumpet player, nor do they know the significance of Maynard.
My friend in high school was a trumpet player and turned me on to Maynard. We used to go see him at a coffee house in Detroit called The Minor Key. He would start a set at 9:00 pm and jam til the wee hours of Sunday morning. I was hooked and remain a fan to this day. Rest in peace Maynard and hopefully you and Gabriel are putting on a show in heaven.
I think a hipster wrote this review...
I played trumpet in high school. Only a person whom knows how to play can understand how important Ferguson was, and actually know what it takes to be an artist like he was. The collage crowd loved him.
Great horn player no matter what the reviewer thinks! In high school I had occasion to see MF with two buddies. We'd listened to his albums and couldn't wait to see him and the band in person. Impressive & powerful. While I played trombone (my buddies played trumpet), I was impressed and influenced with the ease in which he hit the high notes and I began practicing the higher octaves & whisper tones myself. Miss him and those days.
Ferguson came to the United States in 1949 the same year and day I was born…
So,
I started to listen to him… wow.. a great horn man.
I got into pro- singing & entertaining 16 years later in Las Vegas. If, I hadn’t listen to his Great Sounds
I may have become a doctor…of the body - instead a healer of the soul...
I entertained around our world in the Vietnam-War + years. …
Now, I am a patented inventor of machines that Clean our Environment by turning Waste~hydroc a r b o n s into Gas & Oil fuels
LISTEN TO THE COMPOSITION ENTITLED "MAYNARD FERGUSON" THAT WAS MADE WHEN FERGUSON WAS A MEMBER IN STAN KENTON'S ORCHESTRA. THE ALBUM IS CALLED STAN KENTON-1950- 1 9 5 1 (CAPITOL RECORDS).
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