Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Blue Note

Maynard Ferguson passed away this week. For some this name will ring a bell instantly, the bell of a trumpet. For those of you who may not have had the opportunity, Maynard (real name Walter) was a musician and band leader of world-wide renown. He had several nicknames, "Iron Lip," and ironically for me, "The Boss."
My fascination with Maynard Ferguson began years before my infatuation with Bruce Springsteen. As a member of the band in my junior high school, I was always looking for a role model in my chosen section: low brass. My older brother had caught the MF fever ahead of me, and I was introduced to the roar of his horn from a mix tape that included a version of "MacArthur Park" recorded for the "M.F. Horn" album. Then came "Paligacci" from "Primal Scream, " for which we sang along "No more Rice Krispies - there will be no more Rice Krispies."
And "Chameleon." And "Gospel John." This guy played trumpet like a rock star. We flinched a little at his commercial success with "Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)," but this was still a musician, not a pop idol.
He came to the Boulder High School while my brother was there to do a benefit for the music program. Maynard Ferguson in the same auditorium my brother played his concerts - the same auditorium I would someday play mine. I thought the roof might come off the place. I remember seeing the "Superbone" in person: a hybrid of trumpet and trombone. It was a revelation of sorts for me. It brought those triple-C's of the Iron Lip down to a place where the low brass could swing with it. Years later, as leader of the Boulder High Pep Band, I perfected my own "screech tuba" technique.
Goodnight, Maynard. Your chops have earned a rest.


Anonymous said...

Somewhere out there, Left Bank Express lurks to be released on CD. Maynard outlived his mentees: Bill Chase, Don Ellis. There's a gig in the afterlife that I want to sit in on!

mrs. id said...

So Maynard finally left his cake out in the rain.