Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson led his greatest big band during the years that he was signed to Roulette and all of the music from his 13 Roulette LPs (plus 11 previously unissued selections) are included on this deluxe limited-edition ten-CD box set. Although three of the LPs were originally recorded as dance records (and stick close to the melodies), this box as a whole finds Maynard at his peak and with an orchestra that includes such talented soloists as trombonists Slide Hampton and Don Sebesky (both of whom contributed arrangements), altoist Lanny Morgan, the tenors of Carmen Leggio, Willie Maiden, Joe Farrell, and Don Menza, pianists Jaki Byard and Joe Zawinul, and drummer Rufus Jones in addition to the leader. The music is very jazz-oriented and contains more than its share of classic moments, particularly the sessions that resulted in A Message From Newport and Newport Suite. It's highly recommended.
This out-of-print EmArcy LP consists of lengthy versions of "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and an original blues, "Air Conditioning." Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson is heard jamming with an all-star group of West Coast players consisting of altoist Herb Geller, Bob Cooper on tenor, baritonist Bob Gordon, trombonist Milt Bernhart, pianist Claude Williamson, bassist John Simmons and drummer Max Roach. Although the music contains no real surprises, this album has its exciting moments and will be enjoyed by bebop fans.
Maynard Ferguson's sudden passing in the summer of 2006 was a surprise to many jazz fans, as the always upbeat bandleader seemed indestructible. Just a few weeks prior to his death, the trumpeter took his Big Bop Noveau into the studio to record what evidently is his final album. With a number of creative arrangements and original compositions contributed for the recording by Ferguson's bandmembers, the players took to each of them with the same enthusiasm that their leader showed on a everyday basis. Every track should be considered a highlight of the CD, though saxophonist Chip McNeil's scoring of the standard "Without a Song," trombonist Steve Wiest's percolating arrangement of Bill Withers' often bland "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," and Denis DiBlasio's hip setting of Henry Mancini's "Days of Wine and Roses" merit strong praise.
An all-star cast assists Maynard Ferguson in this disco-tinged big-band outing. Ferguson's trademark trumpet playing is featured in all its screaming glory, and Mark Colby contributes a couple of high-energy sax solos. "Primal Scream" and "Invitation" sound as though they were lifted right off the mid-'70s disco dancefloor, complete with T.S.O.P.-type strings and pulsing rhythms. "Pagliacci," too, has the disco beat pounding underneath a Jay Chattaway adaptation of an operatic melody, with Bobby Militello featured on an energetic, overblown flute solo. Chick Corea's "The Cheshire Cat Walk" sounds like latter-day Return to Forever, as Corea's synth trades licks with Ferguson's horn over a familiar RTF rhythmic/chordal bassline sequence. The final cut, Eric Gale's "Swamp," stands out because of its reggae beat.
Maynard Ferguson Octet is an album by Canadian jazz trumpeter/trombonist Maynard Ferguson featuring tracks recorded at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, CA. (tracks 1-5) April 25th 1955, (tracks 6-8) April 27th 1955 and originally released on the EmArcy label 1955. This early triumph from the solo career of the brilliant trumpeter remains bewilderingly rare - it's an avowed West Coast-jazz classic but it's been out of print for years. Verve Originals re-issued this 2008.
Though purists will find Maynard Ferguson's This Is Jazz, Vol. 16 frustratingly incomplete, it isn't designed for them. The entire This is Jazz series is targeted at casual fans and neophytes, who only want a sampling of a famous jazz artist. In that sense, this disc does its job quite well, featuring both his crossover hits ("Gonna Fly Now," "McArthur Park") and his stabs at big band and bop. Of course, this only is the tip of the iceberg as far as Ferguson's work goes – after all, it only features his music for Columbia – but it's enough to spark the interest of anyone wanting to explore his catalog.