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Four Maynard Ferguson Clips

Screen shot 2011-01-24 at 7.26.43 PMJazzWaxSadly, Maynard Ferguson does not get nearly enough credit for being a bandleader and brass player of the highest order. Though somewhat commercially successful in his latter years and increasingly exciteable on stage, Ferguson struggled to create a sound in the rock and disco eras that made sense. He found it in material that scorched everything he touched and that today is largely forgettable.

But back in the late '50s and '60s, Ferguson was at the top of his game just as big band jazz was becoming more sophisticated with a growing number of music-school grads seeking employment. Sadly, too many people today link his name to blow-torch interpretations of Shaft, Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Rocky and Star Wars rather than the impatient grace of Great Guns or Fox Hunt.

Last week I was in Kansas City on assignment and in my hotel room spent a little time before turning in noodling around on YouTube. I stumbled across these four fine Ferguson clips. Give a listen:

Here's Maynard Ferguson in 1959 on Great Guns for Canadian TV, playing four different instruments brilliantly...

Maynard Ferguson in 1969 in Yugoslavia playing Mike Abene's The Fox Hunt...

Here's Ferguson on the same song, but this time overdubbing himself on four different instruments for British television in 1970. (They won't let me embed the clip, so click on the link.)

And even though this is an example of Ferguson already off the deep end in the '70s, it's still worth seeing for Sarah Vaughan and Lou Rawles...

Written by Marc Myers, copyright © by JazzWax (Marc Myers LLC

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