Jazz legend Maynard Ferguson far surpasses the title "trumpet player"; he is an internationally famous big-band leader, one of the world's great brass players, and instrument designer, record producer, composer, arranger, producer of film soundtracks, and dedicated teacher.
He is also a three-time Grammy Award nominee and Down Beat magazine award winner. The prolific bandleader has recorded over 60 albums in his lifetime. The alumni list of his band members over four decades reads like a Who's Who of the jazz world: Chick Corea, Chuck Mangione, Bill Chase, Bob James, Slide Hampton, Wayne Shorter, Greg Bissonette, Peter Erskine, Joe Zawinul, Willie Maiden, and Don Ellis are just some of the greats Ferguson's bands have bred.
Ferguson emerged from big-band swing and worked his way through jazz, bebop, rock, funk, disco, and fusion. When he wasn't actually playing his horn, he conducted, cueing his men, or just snapped his fingers and enjoyed the music. He has been a hustler, a tireless worker, and remarkably generous with his musical abilities.
Ferguson has toured as the leader of a band called Top Brass. He also manufactured personally designed trumpets and mouthpieces from his home in Manchester. This lead to a friendship with Ernie Garside who was responsible for managing MF and helped him put together British Big Band which started the new phase of his career.
In 1969 Ernie Garside arranged for Ferguson to sign with CBS Records in England and created a repertoire for his new British band in which pop and rock songs were rearranged into a big band format, with electronic amplification. This was Ferguson's response to the psychedelic sixties. He produced contemporary arrangements of late 1960s and early 1970s hits like "MacArthur Park" and the Beatles' "Hey Jude." Ferguson's recording of "Gonna Fly Now," - the theme from the hit film Rocky - catapulted Maynard into mainstream popularity with a Top-10 single, a gold album, and a Grammy nomination in 1978.
Maynard Ferguson died in August 2006. "Gabriel the Angel" now has competition in Heaven and is now playing 2nd trumpet!
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