"Playing the Way I Feel," Says Maynard Ferguson
Originally printed in Downbeat - 1951
By Phyllis Richard
Seattle - Maynard Ferguson, winner of Down Beat's trumpet spot, doesn't seem a bit worried over the "commercialization" some of his critics bother about. He told the Beat, on the Kenton "Innovations" tour here last month, that he didn't feel his pyrotechnics were out of line with his personal feeling or with good music. He's playing pretty well what he wants to play.
And he said so directly and convincingly, without the fumbling and "let's put it er, this-a-way" thing encountered so often under the circumstances of interviewer and interviewee.
The matter has been, in fact, a sore spot with many in the Kenton outfit for some time, several of whom expressed the opinion that they were tired of hearing people knock Maynard's high-flying style.
Upon being pressed, Ferguson admitted the possibility that he was responsible for most of those ultra-high sounds from the trumpet section. His explanation: "A bandleader has a right to use a sideman on the thing he does best. Stan uses me on my biggest specialty, high notes. He would be foolish not to, and any leader is bound to emphasize his sidemen's strong points. I like to play more jazz, but when Stan has Conte Candoli to do that, why should he use me?"
As a clincher, Maynard pointed out that nobody is holding a gun on him. When he had his own band, in Canada, from 1945-48, he played what he wanted. And he played much the same way, screechers and all. Poll-winner Ferguson says he is an un-frustrated trumpet player, probably one of the few in captivity.