Friday, August 25, 2006

RIP Maynard Ferguson

We lost another great one yesterday, jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson passed away at 78. A big man, Maynard had the ability to hit notes that a trumpet was not made to hit. During his solos, he would work up a scale and just when you thought there was no possible way for someone to hit a note that high, he took it up two more steps, the trumpet screaming. It was not uncommon during his concerts, for dogs in a three mile radius to suddenly look up and say, "
What the heck was that?"

His album "MF Horn" was a big part of the soundtrack of my childhood, especially his cover of "MacArthur Park" and the album cover is one of those images I can instantly summon up. My first MF show was a few weeks before my zeroith birthday. My mother was 8 1/2 months pregnant and he was playing a show for the local musicians' union. Everyone was petrified that he might reach for a note and the vibrations could induce labor. The last time I saw MF was just two years ago, a fantastic show with my grandfather, my dad and his brothers. One of those evenings I will never forget.

The thing that was always wonderful about seeing Maynard live was not just the music -- his shows always swung and he made sure to surround himself with incredible young players, helping them launch their careers -- but the chance to be with MF himself. You felt like you had just had a beer with him. He always seemed loose and funny and kind and personable and everything you would hear would only further that impression. in a world full of jerks and mediocrity, Maynard Ferguson was a great talent who was also a wonderful, sweet person.