Maynard Ferguson Album Reviews - Footpath Cafe
From Big Bands International, No. 63, May 1993.
In his first new release in nearly three years, MF makes a wholehearted return to the contemporary big band swing idiom which characterized his music through the middle 1960's. Almost totally absent is the "High Voltage" jazz/rock fusion marking the bulk of his output during the last two decades, and the only respites from the overall swing picture are two Latin-tinged charts by saxophonist Chip McNeill: the scorching "Brazil" and the Chick Corea-inspired "Break the Ice". Both Maynard and sax section leader Matt Wallace respectively contribute vocals to "That's My Desire" and the Mose Allison-meets-Screamin' Jay Hawkins-flavored "Poison Ya' Blues" (the latter also features trumpet section leader Roger Ingram, fresh from the Harry Connick, Jr. Band, on obbligato plunger, plus Frank Rosolino-styled trombone from Woody Herman alumnus Dante Luciani). Maynard himself is in a peak form and less dependent on the stratosphere for its own sake. Recorded live at the Hanita Jazz Club in Heist-op-den-Berg, Belgium, during the 1992 Summer tour by the full thirteen-piece Big Bop Nouveau Band, "Footpath Cafe" reconfirms the MF ensemble's premier position in the jazz world.