Maynard Ferguson: Maynard ’61

Maynard Ferguson was a Canadian jazz trumpet player known for his explosive high note playing. He first came to prominence with the big bands of Boyd Raeburn, Charlie Barnet, and Stan Kenton. After a stint as first call trumpet for Paramount Studios, he formed his own big band in the late 50’s. Maynard’s bands saw great changes in instrumentation and musical style over the years, moving from straight ahead jazz to encompass Latin, rock, jazz-fusion, disco, World music, and even opera.

Maynard Ferguson left a lasting legacy through his involvement with music education. Although primarily remembered as a great high note player, he was also a talented performer on the valve trombone, French horn, baritone horn, and soprano saxophone. He also helped invent and develop two new instruments for the Holton company: the Superbone (a combination valve/slide trombone) and the Firebird (a valve/slide trumpet).

Although his biggest commercial success came during the 1970’s with the albums he recorded for Columbia Records, most critics and fans agree that his best work was during the late 50’s and early 60’s for the Roulette label. Maynard’s bands always featured great up and coming talent. Sidemen during this time period included Don Ellis, Bill Chase, Don Sebesky, Willie Maiden, Lanny Morgan, Don Menza, Ronnie Cuber, and was the first place future Weather Report leaders Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter met. He also featured great arrangements from Bill Holman, Ernie Wilkins, Slide Hampton, and Marty Paich.

This increasingly rare album features Joe Farrell on saxophones, Jaki Byard on piano, and Rufus Jones on drums. The opening number, Olé, became Maynard’s signature feature during the 1960’s. Other standout tunes include Blues for Kapp (aka Coldwater Canyon Blues) by Marty Paich, a Joe Farrell tune (Ultimate Rejection) and a Slide Hampton tune written to feature Farrell’s playing on flute, soprano sax and tenor sax. It closes with a great arrangement of the Benny Goodman theme, Goodbye. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Ralph Jungheim. Maynard!