Maynard Ferguson Album Reviews - One More Trip to Birdland
Originally printed in the October, 1996 issue of L.A. Jazz Scene
By Myrna Daniels
Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson comes out swinging on the first cut of his latest CD and tears into "You Got It." His high notes are still up there, he plays with all the fire of a young man and keeps up handily with his younger sidemen. This CD is for lovers of the trumpet, as it also features three other strong players, Scott Englebright (lead), Carl Fischer and Larry Foyen. Also on board are Tom Garling (trombone), Matt Wallace (tenor/alto saxes), Chris Farr (tenor/soprano saxes). Marko Marcinko (drums), Dan Zank (piano/keyboards), and Phil Palombi (acoustic bass and bass guitar). "Manteca" is flashy and fun. "The Vibe" allows for a slower pace and more individualistic work, though the ensemble work is fine. Ferguson is such a powerful player and could easily go over the top, but he always seems to know when to stop. "Milestones" features a snappy arrangement and it sizzles with energy. Matt Wallace's tenor is a strong presence as well and the tune just moves. I think it was a mistake to have Wallace sing the ballad, "She Was Too Good To Me," as his voice just doesn't cut it. He has a very nasal quality that detracts from the sweet sentimentality of the song.
"Birdland" swings hard and fast. I love this tune! I never get tired of hearing it and Ferguson's version is modern and just right for nouveau audiences. "Blues From Around here" is pretty sassy and laid back and again, features a lot of fine trumpet work. Palombi's bass gives the tune the deeper hue that any blues tune needs. Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" is given a contemporary treatment and it works fine. The saxes are particularly good. This is the kind of fast, swinging arrangement that Ferguson loves to do and he still nails it.
Ferguson usually surrounds himself with very strong players and with his chops still in great shape, he keeps them on their toes. With some minor glitches, this is a fine outing for the group.