There is simply no possible way that any (or all) of my words will ever live up to the task of adequately presenting to you my thoughts on the music contained on the 2 CDs that make up The Essential Maynard Ferguson. Snowballs have a better chance in hell, quite frankly.
How could simple words express the emotions that are flooding from the speakers and into my heart as I write this? On this collection, the many musical facets of Maynard Ferguson are all revealed. Whether it is the plaintive cry of adoration that is â€śThe Way You Look Tonight,â€ť or the wistful daydream of â€śOver The Rainbow.â€ť Or perhaps the sinful glide of â€śEverybody Moan,â€ť and the echoing footfall melody of â€śâ€™Round Midnight.â€ť The way the righteous big-band funk of â€śSuperbone Meets the Bad Man,â€ť or the liquid elasticity of â€śThe Cheshire Cat Walkâ€ť caresses your ears. From the bombastically emotional Hollywood verve of â€śGonna Fly Now,â€ť to the gorgeous flights of fanciful memory of â€śBirdland,â€ť all the way down to the big-band-does-salsa melody of â€śManteca.â€ť Maynard simply does it all here in a way that is amazingly distinct.
As wonderful and iconic as Armstrong, Miles, and Coltrane were as horn players, there is no denying the sound of Fergusonâ€™s horn as it glides and slides around a piece of music. It is all at once classy, classic, soulful, playful, respectful, and extremely deserving of respect.
From his earliest days, Fergusonâ€™s bands have provided a spawning ground for an amazing group of artists. These include Chick Corea, Bob James, Bill Chase, Chuck Mangione, Slide Hampton, Don Ellis, Willie Maiden, Peter Erskine, and many others. The recording of â€śGonna Fly Nowâ€ť from â€śRocky,â€ť though, catapulted Maynard into the heady sphere of popular music — giving him a top 10 single, gold album, and one of his eventual three Grammy nominations in 1978. Such fame and familiarity, though, only served to allow him to continue to do what he did best — make wonderful music and inspire others to do the same.