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Maynard! by Ralph Jungheim

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Maynard Ferguson was a trumpeter who possessed astonishing technique, particularly in the upper register, and also played trombone and reed instruments and led a successful big band for many years. Author Jungheim interviewed 30 of Ferguson´s associates in 1978, most of whom were musicians who worked with or for Ferguson. Each musician´s interview is given its own chapter in which a brief introduction to the musician´s career to 1978 is followed by the musician´s recollections of Ferguson and ends with a brief summary of what the musician did since the interview. Jungheim prints no interviewer/ author questions or comments

The advantages and disadvantages of this technique become apparent fairly early in the book and remain until the end. The musician´s comments are generally concise and are interesting to the extent that they have not been previously stated by another interviewee- which they often have. Each of the first five interviewees describe Ferguson´s parents and siblings following in a car behind the bus of the band that Ferguson toured with in his early days as a sideman. The technique shows that there was consensus among Ferguson´s colleagues regarding his even-tempered affability and his highly consistent technique, and no one seems to dislike him. He possessed a good deal of reserve and does not seem to have gotten close to any of the interviewees. Opinions about the quality of his recordings in the 70s and his abilities as a jazz player vary quite a bit among the musicians.

Ferguson was among the early disciples of Timothy Leary , and, later, spent years in India studying yoga. These would make for interesting tangential subjects, but Ferguson´s reserve seems to have kept him from delving into this in any great detail with his musicians.

Maynard! functions as a lode of primary source material that would be of great value for a biographer.

Originally Published