FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NOVEMBER 17, 2015
Two of Maynard Ferguson’s Pivotal 1980s albums— Storm and Live From San Francisco— coming from Omnivore Recordings on December 18.
Discs contain new liner notes from Maynard Ferguson aficionado Eric Palmquist.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Maynard Ferguson was one of the jazz idiom’s most innovative players, able to hit higher notes than any trumpeter of his day. A veteran of the ensembles of Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, and Charlie Barnet, he hit his stride when he began to record under his own name in 1953. He continued to record until his death in 2006.
On December 18, 2015, Omnivore Recordings will reissue two albums from Ferguson’s fertile mid-’80s period, Storm and Live From San Francisco.
After moving to the U.S. from Canada in the 1940s, Ferguson gained prominence through his association with Stan Kenton in the ’50s. Striking out on his own, he appeared on numerous film soundtracks (including The Ten Commandments), and led his own big band, playing to appreciative audiences around the globe. His performances at Birdland were legendary, and were often attended by other jazz greats, including Miles Davis. In the 1960s he relocated to England, where he became a fixture on the BBC’s Simon Dee Show before returning to America in the 1970s, scoring pop hits and playing the closing ceremonies at Montreal’s 1976 Olympic Games.
But as the Columbia years got progressively more commercial, those who had followed his career longed for him to return to classic jazz and fusion. In 1982, Ferguson did just that with Storm. Storm featured Ferguson’s band playing standards like Ellington’s “Take The ‘A’ Train” and even a take on the Sesame Street theme. It also saw the group branch out with originals like “Go With The Flo” and “Hit In The Head.” Listeners even got more than Ferguson’s brass with his vocal on the classic “As Time Goes By.”
The release was a breath of fresh air to fans, and, three decades later, still shows that Maynard Ferguson knew how to blow up a musical Storm. It brought him back to the faithful, and when the band was hottest, they played a show at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. While he was incredible on record, hearing Ferguson live was the real deal. Luckily for all of us, that May 27th performance was captured on tape.
Out of print for decades, 1984’s Live From San Francisco returns, with stunning originals like “Fireshaker,” “Ganesha,” and “Coconut Champagne.” But the past wasn’t forgotten in this performance: there’s a 13-minute tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk—“Bebop Buffet”—and a vocal duet with band member Denis DiBlasio (who currently supervises the Maynard Ferguson Institute of Jazz Studies at Rowan University)—“On the Sunny Side Of The Street.” Along with decades of material, Live From San Francisco offered the things that made a Ferguson Band performance truly special—an eclectic and unique mix of jazz and fusion, and dazzling musicianship.
Live From San Francisco puts listeners in the venue, feeling the power of the Maynard Ferguson Band. This reissue sets the time machine backward, but proves great live music is truly timeless.
Storm CD/Digital Track List:
1. Admiral’s Horn
2. Jar Star
3. Take The ‘A’ Train
4. Latino Lovewalk
5. Sesame Street
6. As Time Goes By
7. Go With The Flo
8. Hit In The Head
Live From San Francisco CD/Digital Track List:
2. Coconut Champagne
3. Lush Life
4. South 21st Shuffle
5. Bebop Buffet
6. On The Sunny Side Of The Street