Ferguson, Maynard

 Maynard Ferguson, jazz trumpeter, bandleader (b at Montréal, Qué 4 May 1928; d at Ventura, California 23 Aug 2006). Maynard Ferguson studied piano and violin, then trumpet, as a child in Montréal, attended the CONSERVATOIRE DE MUSIQUE DU QUÉBEC À MONTRÉAL, and was featured at 14 with Stan Wood's dance band. Developing a remarkable facility in the trumpet's highest register - Ferguson's trademark throughout his career - he alternated between the Wood and Roland David orchestras until he formed his own big band in 1945. The Maynard Ferguson Orchestra appeared locally and travelled as far afield as Toronto and Crystal Beach (on Lake Erie) until 1948.

Ferguson went to New York in 1948, working in quick succession with the Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey and Charlie Barnet orchestras before establishing his reputation firmly in the JAZZ world as a featured soloist from 1950 to 1953 with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. He became a Hollywood studio musician in 1953 but returned to jazz in New York with his so-called Birdland Dreamband in 1956. He continued to lead a "small big band" - generally 13 or fewer musicians - for more than 40 years, save for a hiatus from 1965 to 1970 and a period from 1987 to 1990 in which he fronted a seven-piece band, High Voltage, in the rock-influenced "fusion jazz" style. He returned to a larger ensemble in 1990 with the 10-man Big Bop Nouveau.

Maynard Ferguson enjoyed considerable popularity in the 1970s with hit recordings of pop material, including the song "MacArthur Park" and the themes from the movies Rocky ("Gonna Fly Now," a minor hit single in 1977) and Battlestar Galactica, each given a typically bravura performance that capitalized on his extraordinary range.

He made more than 50 LPs and CDs, notable among them Birdland Dreamband (1956), Message from Newport (1960), M.F Horn IV and V: Live at Jimmy's (1973), the best-selling Conquistador (1976) and One More Trip to Birdland (1996). All of Ferguson's LPs from 1958 to 1962 for the Roulette label, arguably the pinnacle of his work in jazz, were reissued on 10 CDs by Mosaic in 1995; 2 LPs made for the CBC at EXPO 67 with Montréal musicians were also reissued on CD by Justin Time in 1995. Several recordings originally released by Columbia Records have been reissued, including Conquistador and Chameleon (both 2003) and M.F Horn 4 & 5 - Live at Jimmy's (2007).

Maynard Ferguson had been a compelling figure to younger musicians for his energy, his leadership and his willingness to stay abreast of new developments in popular music. He maintained a rigorous touring schedule, touring as much as 8 months a year and travelling out of New York, London and, latterly, Ojai, California. He had also been widely active in music education as a clinician. The emphatically exhibitionistic nature of his playing has, however, cost him a degree of critical acceptance. Nevertheless, Ferguson stood second only to Oscar PETERSON among the most popular Canadian musicians in jazz. He was inducted into Down Beat's Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1997 and received the ORDER OF CANADA in 2003.