Music

Maynard Ferguson: The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson / Come Blow Your Horn

These two albums do not blow the lid off tradition – they are the sound of big band raucous being played for its own sake.


Maynard Ferguson

The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson/Come Blow Your Horn

Label: Real Gone/ABKCO
US Release Date: 2012-01-31
UK Release Date: 2012-01-31
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Before he assumed his chameleon colors, nursed stallions into flight, and took sabbaticals to India, superstar trumpeter Maynard Ferguson had a fruitful career as a straight-laced big band leader. What's strange about this is that Maynard and his orchestra were hitting strides when no one gave a damn about big band anymore. The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson/Come Blow Your Horn couples two albums from 1963, a time when John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, and Sun Ra were throwing down large, heavy gauntlets that challenged people's perception of music before the psychedelic era got underway. Meanwhile, Ferguson was still wearing a tie and probably showing up promptly at 9:00 each morning. This isn't to say that these two albums don't have a viable following. A quick hop online shows that people still look up to them this day; it's not cutting-edge stuff, it's comfort food. And Bret Primack's liner notes for this two-fer admit that seeing Ferguson's band perform live back in the day probably fuels the appreciation.

And because both albums were recorded within a calendar year, The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson and Come Blow Your Horn are not radically different from one another. In fact, the title of the former is a little misleading since Maynard Ferguson had already been doing big band prior to this. The surprises are few, and the swings are sturdy, save for a ferocious reading of "Cherokee" and a rhythm section breakdown in "One O'Clock Jump" that almost makes the sound die down completely. The title Come Blow Your Horn is more apt for the racket on display on both albums, though it sounds more like an invitation Ferguson is extending to his band members than to himself. He was known for making his horn screech into the stratospheres of brass music – a high school music teacher of mine recalls seeing Ferguson's '70s gut instantly disappear as he drew his first breath – but the man doesn't seem particularly keen on playing his hind off on these dates. As a quote from pianist Mike Abene in the liner notes states, "...Maynard encouraged us to solo. He'd open up the charts so we could blow as much as we wanted."

The mention of Abene brings me to a troubling aspect to Real Gone/ABKCO's reissue of these two albums; while the liner notes are thorough in telling the stories behind The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson and Come Blow Your Horn, there are no band credits listed. You are informed where each song was recorded and which take number was used, but the actual details of who was in the band and what they played are reduced to a microscopic reprint of the original album sleeves inside the CD's sleeve. Focusing on them brought on a headache.

But in addition of bringing two out-of-print LPs onto one CD, The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson/Come Blow Your Horn contains an exclusive track sandwiched between the two albums, a previously unreleased run-through of "The Song Is You". It swings fiercely, enough to hit it and quit in under three minutes. The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson/Come Blow Your Horn can satisfy listeners in a variety of ways; it rescues two albums of the Cameo label from obscurity. boasts a confrontational mastering job, and provides context to Ferguson’s career. Personally, I'm surprised that one man can go from covering "Take the A Train" and the "Naked City" theme to writing Indian epics like "Misra-Dhenuka" in one lifetime. As implied earlier, these two albums do not blow the lid off tradition – they are the sound of big band raucous being played for its own sake.

6

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image