Regarding John Salmon’s communique about Maynard Ferguson, a musician and historian writes:
John Salmon would have made his case for Maynard Ferguson better without the hyperbolic prose. For example:
1) “Some, like his Roulette era albums of 1958-1962, and are unrivaled by anyone, including Basie and Ellington.”
I think that Ferguson’s ’57-’65 bands were among the best of their time, but I’ve never heard even the most hyper-partisans of MF make a claim like Salmon’s. “Endless taste wars” indeed, Mr. Salmon–I suspect that Maynard himself would blush.
2) “I love Maria Schneider, but name one kid drawn into jazz by her music.”
As a musician who teaches jazz at three universities and does clinics on three continents, I’ve observed much student interest in Maria’s music.
3) “And many of the guys in her bands came up through MF’s bands.”
I know most of Maria’s players (male *and* female, by the way) personally, and I know of only two who are MF alumni: Tim Ries and Keith O’Quinn. I may be missing at most one or two. A number of others are Woody Herman, Gerry Mulligan, and Buddy Rich alumni.
And one is a graduate of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry was with Jones-Lewis, then the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and now plays in the current incarnation of those bands, The Vanguard Orchestra, as well as in Schneider’s.
John Salmon says
My comment regarding the Basie and Ellington bands was based on my recollection of their bands at that time (late 50’s, early 60’s), not their overall output…it goes without saying (though I should’ve said it.) I didn’t, also, mean to suggest that only men had played in Maria’s bands-I know Laurie Frink had played for her, and more recently Ingrid Jensen.
I still don’t think it makes sense to omit Ferguson’s band from any discussion of current big bands because it is smaller than most. My point remains: Who is drawing more young people to the music, by being on the road and being visible to a large audience? This hasn’t been addressed. You would think that doing that for 50-plus years would count for something. Hence my entirely reasonable assumption that bias was at the heart of the blunder.
Dennis Kahle says
Re: the MF band comments. I never get into this stuff, but feel compelled this one time. Background on me cheerfully offered if asked, but for now, I’m just a jazz fan.
I’m not going to split hairs over accuracy of alumni, what size constitutes a big band, etc; doubtless all of you are correct. But have any of you seen MF’s band in the past few years? I did, at the Santa Monica Pier. He’s a bloated parody of his former self and the charts are patronizing. The young guys carry the entire show (and “show” describes the experience precisely). The occasional exception is when MF himself, telegraphing his big moment, plays a few screech notes, then rips the horn from his lips with great flourish. When the hoped-for adulation from the audience did not materialize, his expression was somewhere between perplexed and resigned.
Are they playing jazz? Begrudgingly, using a loose definition, they are, but the mood seems more one of desparation than of joy in making music. So he plays a lot of gigs each year. At what? County fairs and venues of that ilk, methinks.
I appreciate the contributions he has made to jazz in the past, but this is the present, and if contributions are still there, these ears sure missed them. By a mile.
John Salmon says
Sounds like you caught MF on a bad night. No one’s chops will vary more from night to night than a trumpet player’s. Trust me, he’s playing better now that he has in years, due to, among other things, some equipment changes.