As a big band and combo leader on and off since 1957, Ferguson has gained broad appeal because of his spectacular high-note trumpet work and stirring interpretations of pop tunes. His ten-piece Big Bop Nouveau is one of his better jazz-oriented bands, an exciting, well-disciplined unit able to play high, hard, and fast. This album finds the band playing solid jazz tunes such as Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca,” Miles Davis’ “Milestones” and Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” as well as Joe Zawinul’s funky “Birdland” and several originals. Arrangers Tom Garling (who also plays trombone and guitar in the band), Marko Marcinko (piano), Chip McNeill, et al. have caught the brassy Ferguson style perfectly. Their charts (most are quite challenging) and the spirit and expert technique of the ensemble and soloists make this an enjoyable trip indeed.
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