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Maynard Ferguson: The Lost Tapes, Vol. 1

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In 1967 and 1968, before his big pop hits of the early 1970s like “MacArthur Park,” Maynard Ferguson led a mostly British big band in England. Ernie Garside, who played trumpet in and managed the group at points during its existence, also owned a club in Manchester where the band played. These tapes come from both studio demos and live sessions at that club and others recorded by Garside.

This band was Ferguson’s first concerted response to embrace rock music, his own big-band fusion of jazz and rock. That approach jumps right out on the opening track, “L-Dopa,” with a solid backbeat taking over after the leader’s heraldic opening high notes leading into a funky melody reminiscent of Horace Silver. This band didn’t swing so much as rock out, very pugnaciously at that, as the solos by saxophonists on the track emphasize. It was a high-energy band, as the choogling “Watermelon Man” live track, with soaring solos, proves. “The Fruit of the Loon” adds boogaloo to the mix (the bassist played electric more than upright; the pianist doubled on electric keyboards) and Ferguson got decidedly psychedelic on “Eleanor Rigby,” featuring sustained church organ chords under flugelhorn and electric bass.

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