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Home arrow.gif (67 bytes) Articles arrow.gif (67 bytes) Biographical arrow.gif (67 bytes) Maynard Ferguson - The Legend

Maynard Ferguson - The Legend

From Paradise Artists, Inc. (Maynard's agency)

"I'm a person of change and I must be honest to my artistry and my creativity. That's part of the word 'jazz'....it's an adventure."

Maynard Ferguson - jazz legend, internationally famous big band leader and one of the world's great trumpet and brass instrument players, is now in his fourth decade as a leader with a constantly changing band. Maynard Ferguson is always experimenting on the edge of what's happening and approaches his music as a constant adventure.

With a heavy on-the-road concert itinerary, Maynard and his band tour 9 months a year with almost nightly performances at festivals, concert halls, jazz clubs, and universities around the globe. Currently most of Maynard's year is spent touring with his Big Bop Nouveau Band, arguably the premier jazz big band on the road today, and occasionally guesting at symphony appearances and other special events.

This three time Grammy nominee, consistent Downbeat and Playboy Jazz Poll award winner is a potent force in the world of music education, making time to personally encourage young musicians. An instrument designer, a record producer, composer, arranger, symphonic guest artist, and film soundtrack artist, Maynard Ferguson is a diverse and energetic musician whose talents far surpass trumpet player.

As might be expected, Maynard's innate musical talents were exhibited at an early age. He has been performing since he first soloed as a child prodigy with the Canadian Broadcasting Co. orchestra in 1939 when Maynard was 11 years old. Born in Montreal, Quebec in May 1928, he was encouraged by his mother, a violinist and school principal, and by age four was playing piano and violin. By nine, he had enrolled in the French Conservatory of Music where he received his formal training. "When people ask me who were my major influences, I tell them my mother and Louis Armstrong," says the trumpeter.

Maynard Ferguson had his own jazz and dance band at 16. All the players were twice his age except his brother, Percy. By 1948, Maynard had made his debut in the U.S. in Boyd Raeburn's band and the first of three major career periods had begun. In the 50's, he played with Charlie Barnett and Jimmy Dorsey dazzling the jazz world with his high trumpet blasts in the Stan Kenton band. After Kenton, for the next three, he was first-call studio trumpeter and recorded film soundtracks for Paramount including The Ten Commandments. Guesting with symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein in 1955, Maynard Ferguson performed the "Titans" by William Russo, with the New York Philharmonic.

The recording of "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky catapulted Maynard into "Pop" popularity with a top 10 single, a gold album, and one of his three Grammy nominations in 1978. Maynard accomplished what no other jazz artist had. Says critic, Leonard Feather in a Los Angeles Times article: "Conquistador earned Ferguson a unique place in the big band world; he alone was able to crack the pop charts."

Maynard Ferguson, the kid, set the jazz world on its ear with the innovation and level of musicianship of his "Birdland Dream Band" in the 1950's. Maynard Ferguson, the legend, enters the 1990's as the premier Big Band leader in the world of jazz.

From the earliest days, Ferguson's bands have bred solo artists and his alumni list reads like a "Who's Who" in jazz: Chick Corea, Bob James, Bill Chase, Chuck Mangione, Slide Hampton, Don Ellis, Willie Maiden, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Peter Erskine, Greg Bissonette, and many more.

Today, Maynard Ferguson thoroughly enjoys his life. He is doing what he wants to do on the road, in his recordings, and at home and this shows in the success of his career.