Bloomington, Illinois. April 1, 2000
A concert review by MF fan Steve Wright.
You know, no matter how many times I go to see a concert, I always get anxious and excited. Especially when I get a change to see Jazz great Maynard Ferguson. I am a 22 year old, that has also played trumpet for about 13 years, and could probably be considered a "Maynard Freak".
Bloomington-Normal, IL was the site for my latest MF concert experience. I am living in Chicago and decided to go visit my old college roommate, who happens to be a music teacher at the Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, IL. The weekend of the concert was also the weekend of the Illinois State Jazz Festival, in which MF was to be the featured act. I got to my friends house, and we proceeded to go to his school. When we got there, the jazz band was warming up for their performance at the Jazz festival. Not only did they perform well, but they placed first. Then at the awards ceremony, it was announced that they would get to be one of the two high school groups to open the show for MF. I was really excited, but the kids were just there. They didn't understand how cool it really was that they were going to get to play on the same stage.
I started talking to the kids and trying to get them excited about the show, but they were more concerned about leaving the concert after they played and not even staying to hear Maynard. Finally my friend and I convinced a lot of them to stay, but they had no idea what was in store for them.
(On to the concert).......................
Before the concerts the students were all back stage during the sound check, so they got to see a little bit of the behind the scenes work involved. The kids opened up the show and got a standing ovation. Then on to Maynard. My friend and I took one of the seniors in the group and sat in the front row. Maynard came out to the usual entrance of Blue Birdland. You could tell from the very beginning that the band was on tonight.
The show opened with Tom Garlings "You Got It". I have been to 23 Maynard concerts over the last few years, and I have never heard him play live as well as he did this night. From the very first solo he took, it was simply amazing. Things that I have heard him play up the octave in previous shows were even an octave higher this time. The whole band was on for the entire show. They moved on with another Tom Garling arrangement, "Just Friends". Then a little something that I hadn't heard yet. Reggie Watkins(trombone) mapped out an arrangement of "Girl from Ipanema". It was great. I am not sure who the second trumpet player is now, but he is an outstanding soloist. Earl MacDonald, Piano, did an arrangement of "Friday Night at the Cadillac Club" (I'm pretty sure that was the exact title.) This was, as Earl said, a blessing to all Maynard fans because it had three good qualities. HIGH, FAST, and LOUD.
The most effective song of the night was off the Brass Attitude album, "Misra-Dhenuka". The piece started out by the lights going out and a red spot light on Maynard slowly fading in. The trading between Maynard and Reggie was outstanding. The two knew exactly where the other was going the entire time. When the song got into full swing, the group was so tight and the energy just filled the entire auditorium. The piece had a great overall effect, and it was very easy to tell it. At the end of the piece the entire auditorium went black with silence and there was not a sound for at least five seconds or maybe a little more. The entire crowd was speechless. It was the best feeling I have ever had at a concert experience.
The gig ended with "Cajun Cookin' " The entire sold out audience was on their feet dancing around. Then Maynard made his way into the crowd. He walked all of the way across the first and second rows shaking hands and greeting all he could. They broke in the MF Medley in the middle of Cajun Cookin as usual, playing greats such as Macarthur Park (which Adolfo just nailed), Chameleon, and then the entire trumpet section absolutely wailing on When the Saints Go Marching In.
Standing ovation, and then the band took the crowd on a one way trip to Birdland. All the kids that we had to convince to stay were just in awe. After the show they wouldn't shut up about it. So, I thought it would be cool if their night continued. I walked up to Ed Sargeant, (tour manager) and asked if there was a way to get backstage. He said to just hang loose. He directed us to the backstage area, set up a table and Maynard came out and took the time to meet, greet, and sign autographs for every one of the students who had earlier opened the show for him. It was funny, because the students went from saying who is this guy earlier in the night to what could have possibly turned into life long fans of who in my mind is the greatest trumpet player of all time.
I hope that Maynard will visit this homepage, because I would like to personally thank Maynard, his band, and his manager for making this concert and every concert I have ever been to a memorable experience. For taking the time out to not only perform in front of people night after night, to take time to meet people, and also for making at least 18 students, that night, have a new appreciation for jazz music and the people who play it.