Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mourn for Maynard

As a trumpet player and drum corps junkie since the 70's, I find out this afternoon that one of my icons has passed. Maynard Ferguson, known in the main stream for his rendition of the 'Rocky' theme is gone:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jazz trumpeter and big-band leader Walter "Maynard" Ferguson, famed for his screaming solos and ability to hit blisteringly high notes, has died at age 78, associates said on Thursday.
He became known with the Kenton band for being able to hit "ridiculous high notes with ease," according to jazz critic Scott Yarnow.

The Penguin Guide to Jazz says of Ferguson: "There are few sights more impressive in animal physiology than the muscles in Maynard Ferguson's upper thorax straining for a top C.

"... Putting a Ferguson disc on the turntable evokes sensations ranging from walking into a high wind to being run down by a truck," according to the Penguin Guide.

Among Ferguson's best known and most commercially successful recordings were "MacArthur Park" and the "Rocky" movie theme, "Gonna Fly Now."
I saw Maynard live several times. Most memorable was at the old Met Sports Center to a very sparse crowd. At first I was disappointed that there was only a few thousand people there, but it turned out to be a blessing. The concert turned into a very intimate and personal performance, with Maynard venturing into the audience a few times to 'squeal' right from the aisle and greet many of us in attendance. In 2003, the last time I performed with Minnesota Brass, we played a portion of another of Maynard's hits, Conquistador.

I'll be digging out some of my old Maynard stuff the next few days. He will be missed!


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