Artist: Maynard Ferguson
Album: Memories of Maynard
Genre: Modern Big Band
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Primal Scream (7:14)
Gonna Fly Now (4:27)
Theme from Star Trek (5:10)
Over the Rainbow (5:35)
Theme from Star Trek the Motion Picture (3:30)
Om Sai Ram (7:53)
Portuguese Love (5:22)
Shanti Mantra (5:49)
With the possible exceptions of Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker—both of whose playing influenced the entire genre of jazz—no other jazz performer has had the purely imitative effect on an entire instrument’s universe of players than Maynard Ferguson. Ferguson’s unique abilities as a trumpet player and individual inspire trumpeters young and old to this day. His most ardent admirers stretched beyond the jazz idiom to Maurice Andre, Adolph “Bud” Herseth—respectively considered the “gold standard” of orchestral and virtuosic trumpeting—to the still-tooting at 90+, Doc Severinsen.
While Ferguson had already established himself as a phenom in prior decades—with Charlie Barnet, Stan Kenton, the L.A. studios, leading the Birdland Dream Band, and via his straight-ahead Roulette and Mainstream label years—it was during his “commercial” period at Columbia Records where Ferguson’s appeal began to cross boundaries, age groups, and, at the time, radio and television media. Memories of Maynard is a superbly presented compilation of selected recordings performed by Ferguson and his high-energy units during the Columbia stint—a period where jazz and commercialization blended under the dizzying strobe-globe of disco. The playing on this salute is, as it was then, stellar. However, it is the glorious re-mastering and production that yields Memories of Maynard as a killer effort. Reissue Producers Ken Masters and Gary Gillies, along with Gillies’ and Andy Haldane’s superb re-mastering, delivers one for the Ages—all of them.
The compilation launches powerfully with Ferguson’s white-hot funk take on “Chameleon,” and includes his biggest crossover hit, “Gonna Fly Now (“Theme from ‘Rocky’),” as well as themes from the original “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” movie. Ferguson, who was an opera embracer, delivers a whirling send-up of “Pagliacci” that Luciano would love. “Fox’s” long-time love of Indian music is represented by two takes, “Om Sai Ram” and a never released cut, “Shanti Mantra.” “Maria,” originally in the Ferguson band book in the early 60s, was given a contemporary “hustling.” The Ferguson bands sizzle and soar on every cut—even more so when listened to with our fresh “ears.”
While jazz purists now, as they did then, might raise brows regarding the commercialization of the presentation, one cannot help but be rendered awe-struck at Ferguson’s artistry and unique musical gifts. The album is an absolute joy. Informative anecdotal liners are included; however, personnel are not—a minor drawback. (Note: As a courtesy, I have included a listing below of players who performed on the Columbia originals).
Rest assured that somewhere there’s a fifth-grade trumpeter practicing whose window is opened and who, upon hearing this album, certainly is gonna fly now. Here are your wings, young trumpeter. You can thank The Boss.
By NICHOLAS F. MONDELLO