Friday, August 25, 2006

Gonna Really Fly Now / The Incredible Maynard Ferguson passes away May 4, 1928 - August 23, 2006

the stratospheric horn of MF finally gets called home...

hey there good music lovin' people...

It has been some gloom with the recent spate of passings, but I heard this last night on the gig, and felt that I needed to at least write something , and to give the biggest props to the mighty trumpeter, Maynard Ferguson, who left the planet on the 23rd of this month.

I first heard the album "MF Horn 2"
in high school (my HS band teacher, Larry Morrell gets the approving nod for this episode in my life), and it still knocks me out to this day, while then introducing me to the great writing of Adrian Drover, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Mansfield and others...
The long out of print albums "Screamin' Blues" and "Dues" (with it's haunting arrangement of "Tinsel" by Willie Maiden still evokes the "Sunset Boulevard of broken dreams" atmosphere) also saw their way into my listening diet...

I later saw MF and his band (with the great Peter Erskine on drums, just joining after a long stint in Stan Kenton's band) at Sunset High School in Beaverton, OR back in the early 80's -thanks band director Dell Herried (may he rest in peace) for making that possible for us kids then to see some of the great music from the Big Bands (which sorely have been missed and long gone in the new century)...



For my money, that 13 piece band smoked any larger band in the same arena.

Unbelievable performances all around from Erskine, Mark Colby, Bobby Militello, Stan Mark, Ron Tooley, Dennis Noday, Randy Purcell, Gordon Johnson, Biff Hannon, Joe Mosello, Roger Homefield and Mike Migliore...and of course, Maynard himself leading the way with his high note playing, and general good cheerleading of the troops through some involved Jazz battle!

I was ruined for life in the best way that evening, and sadly now "The Boss" is truly gone...

Yes, now with myself as a co-leader of a large group such as a big band, I do feel some more cavernous empty exerted upon the survival of that genre and it's wonderful music, and even more loss of one of the greats from the true Big Band era.

I am also sure that those of my peer group, and my generation, will feel this loss also with much verve and gravity. No one will see the likes of that power and majesty, played by the people of that era. Basie, Herman, Ellington, Kenton, Ferguson, Rich, Harry James, Les Brown, Charlie Barnet...

I could go on....More appropriately though, I will let the official MF site post do the talking here.

Rest in peace, MF!!





The following is the official statement released by Maynard's management, respectfully reprinted here.


LEGENDARY MUSICIAN MAYNARD FERGUSON DIES
Grammy Nominated Trumpeter Known for "Gonna Fly Now"
Theme To Movie "ROCKY" was 78

Ojai, CA (August 24, 2006) - Walter "Maynard" Ferguson, one of the most influential musicians and band leaders in the history of Jazz, passed away August 23rd at 8:00 pm Pacific Time at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California. He was 78 years old. His death was the result of kidney and liver failure brought on by an abdominal infection. Mr. Ferguson's four daughters, Kim, Lisa, Corby, Wilder and other family members were at his side when he passed away after this brief illness. He spoke by phone with his friend and manager Steve Schankman from St. Louis, longtime tour manager Ed Sargent, and friend, and fellow trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.

Mr. Ferguson had recently returned home to California from New York after several sold out performances in July at the famed Blue Note Club. During this time, Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau band also recorded a new album at Bennett Studios in Englewood, New Jersey.


Maynard Ferguson, born May 4th 1928 in Montreal, started his career at the age of 13 when he performed as a featured soloist with the Canadian Broadcasting Company Orchestra. He played with some of the great Big Band Leaders of the 1940's including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Barnett, Jimmy Dorsey and Stan Kenton. In 1945, at age 17, Ferguson became the leader of his own Big Band.

The 78-year old musical phenomenon went on to record more than 60 albums, receiving numerous honors and awards including the GRAMMY® nomination for "Gonna Fly Now." In 2005, Ferguson was awarded Canada's highest civilian honor, the "Order of Canada" from the Right Honorable Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. In addition to those accolades, Ferguson has been the recipient of DownBeat Magazine's prestigious "DownBeat" Award.



"The Boss," as Ferguson is known, has been performing for packed houses for decades. His recent DVD release, "Live at The Top," captures one of his most memorable performances, a concert held at the Plaza Hotel in Rochester New York in 1975, with Ferguson performing alongside fellow music pioneers Stan Mark, Ernie Garside and Bruce Johnston. Most recently, Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau Band had been touring the United States. He was preparing for a Fall Tour beginning mid-September in Tokyo, Japan. He had also been invited to play for the King of Thailand's 80th birthday in January.


Mr. Ferguson's body will be cremated in his hometown of Ojai, California. Memorial contributions can be made to the Maynard Ferguson Music Scholarship Fund at University of Missouri - St. Louis, which was established by Steve Schankman at Maynard's 75th birthday celebration. Mr. Schankman and the Ferguson family are planning a memorial concert to take place in St. Louis which will feature many of the band's alumni and friends who Mr. Ferguson performed with during his more than 60-year musical career.

Mr. Ferguson's latest, and last, recording will be released later this year as a legacy to the life of Maynard Ferguson.

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