Thursday, August 31, 2006
Belated Obit: Maynard Ferguson
I got to see Maynard Ferguson live once, (or was it twice) at the old Leisure Lodge, back in the 70s, before it burned down. Man, what a powerhouse he was, and the band. Not necessarily a lot of finesse. When you're playing notes in the stratosphere, always on the verge of bursting a blood vessel in your brain, you can't expect the precision of a Swiss watch. But Ferguson defined screaming trumpet, and set the bar for all who followed. And by doing so, he made big bands popular again (for a while) at a time when everybody was stoned on acid and listening to Hendrix and Deep Purple. (Well...maybe some of you were listening to that ugly stepchild Disco...)
Here's an interesting thing. Really, it was my old man who introduced me to Ferguson. In fact we went together to big band concerts...Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Ferguson, Count Basie...me in my hippie phase, he in his nostalgia. If nothing else, we always had music appreciation in common. And I returned his favour by introducing him to Chicago. The band. Chicago. Early Chicago. Before they became an insipid hit machine. There's a trombone solo on their first album that my old man just loved.
Anyway, now I'm gonna have to go and listen to my old vinyl Ferguson records, just to remind me of what we lost.