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Maynard Ferguson and His Big Bop Nouveau Band : The One and Only Maynard Ferguson

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When veteran trumpeter-bandleader Maynard Fergu-son entered the recording studio in July 2006 with a stellar group of Big Bop Nouveau Band alumni, he had no idea he would be making his final album. Ferguson was unaware that he was ill, and his death the following month was a great shock to everyone. Happily, his last recording is an especially good one. Over the years, Ferguson employed many excellent arrangers, and this disc finds some of them functioning as both writers and performers. Baritonist Denis DiBlasio wrote five of the charts and trombonist Steve Wiest contributed two, including a brilliantly novel take on “Besame Mucho.” Tenorist Chip McNeill wrote one, as did one-track guest pianist and Ferguson son-in-law Christian Jacob. The reduced big band (four trumpets, three saxophones, trombone and rhythm), steered by lead trumpeters Wayne Bergeron and Patrick Hession, performs the collection of fresh-sounding standards and originals with precision and utmost musicality. Almost everyone solos, and all show themselves to be skillful improvisers. Ferguson is featured on trumpet or flugelhorn throughout and demonstrates that up to the very end, his phenomenal upper register and extraordinary lip flexibility made him, as Stan Kenton once put it, “capable of stirring great feelings of fire.”