August 24, 2006


Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson dies at age 78 (Reuters, 8/24/06)

Jazz trumpeter and big-band leader Walter "Maynard" Ferguson, famed for his screaming solos and ability to hit blisteringly high notes, has died at age 78, associates said on Thursday. [...]

Ferguson started his career at 13 when he performed as a featured soloist with the Canadian Broadcasting Co. Orchestra.

He played with several of the great big-band leaders of the 1940s and '50s, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Barnett, Jimmy Dorsey and Stan Kenton, with whom he was a featured performer.

He became known with the Kenton band for being able to hit "ridiculous high notes with ease," according to jazz critic Scott Yarnow.

Maynard Ferguson, 78, Trumpeter and Bandleader, Dies (TIM WEINER, 8/25/06, NY Times)
Mr. Ferguson had a stratospheric style all his own. He possessed “a tremendous breadth of sound and an incomparable tone,” said Lew Soloff, a prominent trumpeter who started out with Mr. Ferguson in the mid-1960’s. The writer Frank Conroy once noted, “He soared above everything, past high C, into the next octave and a half, where his tone and timbre became unique” — sometimes reaching, as Mr. Schankman said, “notes so high that only dogs could hear them.”

He pleased far more crowds than critics. John S. Wilson, reviewing Mr. Ferguson’s big band at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival for The New York Times, called it “screaming” and “strident.” Yet that same year the readers of Down Beat magazine voted the band the world’s second-best, outranked only by Count Basie’s.

Today, record collectors pay hundreds of dollars for rare Fergusons. “Very few rock superstars can command that kind of prices for used CD’s or records,” said John Himes, who runs the Maynard Ferguson Album Emporium in Cypress, Calif.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 24, 2006 4:05 PM

A sad day; when I was first learning to play trumpet, MF was my inspiration. I've enjoyed him ever since.

I count myself fortunate to have been able to see him perform up close and personal.

Posted by: Scott at August 24, 2006 5:21 PM

I saw him at Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio, and later at Mershon Auditorium on the Ohio State campus. Idora Park was torn down years ago, but as far I know, Mershon is still there.

He took his responsibilities as a bandleader seriously. He once foiled an attempt to steal the band's payroll by lying down on the satchel containing the cash when gunmen forced their way into his hotel room and ordered everyone down. The thieves were unable to find the money they expected, apparently concluded they had missed payday, and left empty-handed.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at August 24, 2006 10:38 PM

I just heard this morning. Its difficult to say in words what an inspiration Maynard has been all these years. Its corny but true that
trumpet players can usually remember the awe-inspiring moment they first heard him play. I can. It's funny that it was a record of him
playing the theme from Star Trek (typical Maynard version that musically spaces out (no pun intended) in the middle). I had no idea
that those notes even existed on the trumpet!. I'm so glad I was able to see him live on a few occasions, and even met him after the show.

Deep breath ...


Posted by: Dominic at August 25, 2006 9:11 AM