Friday, August 25, 2006
Maynard Ferguson passed away the night before last at the age of 78.
Maynard Ferguson passed away at 8pm, August 23. He was 78 years old. He was a tremendous influence to me. I remember in my freshman year in high school,my buddy Johnny Serrano playing for me Maynard's solo on "Concerto To End All Concertos" on the album, "Kenton in Hi Fi" That solo wigged me out completely. The range, power, brashness of Maynard's playing changed the direction of my life completely. I knew at that moment, I wanted to be a professional trumpet player and have been on that journey ever since.My first jazz trumpet teacher, Johnny Coppola used to play on Kenton's band with Maynard and roomed with him. Johnny used to tell me funny stories about their hangs and playing together on the bandstand. I called him this morning when my former student and good friend Niel Levonius gave me the sad news. It shook Johnny up to hear it as you can imagine. Johnny is the last surviving member of the Charlie Barnet band that he played on and probably the same goes for the Kenton and the Herman band too. He always had great things to say about Maynard. He even had one of Maynard's large bore Martin Committee that Maynard gave him years ago. My first jazz record was "MF Horn". I bought it at Columbia Music on Market St in SF. Man, I wore that bad boy out! Maynard's band was the 2nd big band I ever saw (the first was Stan Kenton's band at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, CA with Mike Vax playing lead). I saw Maynard and the guys at De Anza College. I remember they were wearing their striped t-shirts and black pants. I believe Bob Summers was in the band as well as Lin Biviano (?) Maynard sounded awesome and it really sent me thru the roof. I went on to see Maynard many many more times after that and try to emulate his playing, tho quite unsuccessfully I might add.I even had an opportunity to play with him at the Fairmont Hotel in SF sometime between "85" and "90". I was the first call sub in the Dick Bright Orchestra and we played him and the band on, and at the end of the show, played his greatest hits medley. That was so cool, finally getting a chance to play with the man who forever changed the direction of my life. I also want to mention that one of my best buds, Louis Fasman played on the band for about a year. That was around "85" Louis played his ass off. They were playing "Hey Jude" and during the last free section, Louis played Maynard's intro to MF. He sounded great and in my mind, was one of the best but under rated and overlooked lead players to play with Maynard. Ask Wayne B about him sometime. Louis and I played a gig with the Larry Vucovitch Big Band at Copia's tonight and we toasted the Boss with a tasty bottle of T-Vines 2002 Syrah. I'll never forget Maynard. He played the trumpet as if he were the greatest opera singer that ever lived. He could bebop with the best and no one ever has played the horn with the same passion and flair that he did. He did it his way and either you loved or hated it although it was hard to imaging people not digging Maynard. Rest in peace Maynard. And thanks again for being the influence in my life that you were and still are.