Doug's Sounding Board


R.I.P. Maynard Ferguson: May 4, 1928 – August 23, 2006

The last of the biggies from the big-band era passed away yesterday from kidney & liver failure resulting from an abdominal infection. His last and final album that he just finished recording will be coming out this fall. I was hoping to see him again next year when his tour hit Salinas.

I was 16 and on the way home from a marching band competition. I was exhausted emotionally and physically from the day and just wanted to sleep but the lead trombone player put in a Maynard Ferguson tape. I was amazed at his power and technique and ability to convey emotion while playing jazzy versions of pop songs. By the end fo the album I was wide awake and needing more. Over the years I’ve collected a lot of his albums, certainly not all 60+ he recorded, but maybe around 30. Through listening to Maynard Ferguson I think I got a deeper appreciation of jazz over a number of eras that I might not have otherwise by picking up albums of people he played with, or looking for more albums that had a style being used, or even seeing out other versions of songs that I didn’t know were jazz standards at the time.

I saw him in concert six times, but the most memorable were the shows at the Great American Music Hall in S.F. and at Doc Rickett’s Lab in Monterey. The Great American Music Hall was a great show. The sound, the connection, it was all there. During “Hey Jude” the trumpets came out into surrounded the audience while playing the chorus. This was the ultimate surround sound. It gave me chills. The show at Doc Ricket’s Lab in Monterey. A large room with a low ceiling and a weird shape. The band stand had a weird pole in it but they managed a great show. The best part was a long solo that lulled everyone as the lights went down on teh band to highlight the soloist. Then the solo came to an end that the rest of the audience wasn’t expecting and Maynard had the band punch back in. The entire room jumped! Maynard was up on the stage giggling at getting everyone.

Maynard Ferguson’s home page has the official obituary and links to others and memorials.

I’ll end this with three video clips:

Here’s Maynard at 22 with the Stan Kenton orchestra on the Ed Sullivan show.

Here’s a concert video of Maynard trading on a solo with Serafin Aguilar recorded this year. The sound is out of sync but it’s still good.

Here is Maynard’s band in the 70s playing “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”

4 Responses to “R.I.P. Maynard Ferguson: May 4, 1928 – August 23, 2006”

  1. 1
    Daniel Punkass Says:

    Ah, Doug! And you introduced me to him. Sorry to hear the news…

  2. 2
    Douglas Says:

    You actually came to my mind while I was writing about my introduction.

  3. 3
    Liana Says:

    Doug, I have a poor memory, but I *do* know that I wouldn’t appreciate good trumpet playing and Maynard Ferguson if it were not for you. I thought of you immediately when I heard the news of his passing yesterday on NPR. I will also always remember that of the two t-shirts we bought at the concert we went to, yours was in fantastic shape for years, while the lettering on mine almost immediately started to disintegrate. Fortunately I still have the Jolted Mush tapes to listen to when I need a Maynard fix.

  4. 4
    Douglas Says:

    Liana, my shirt still looks pretty good 🙂 You were at the second concert I mentioned at Doc Rickett’s Lab in Monterey, but I forgot about the t-shirts until you just mentioned them. If you even need more Maynard songs let me know.

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