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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Maynard Ferguson, Live at Jimmy's. First, let me say, It's about flippin' time they released this on CD!. I had just about worn out the vinyl record that I bought 30 years ago.

Maynard always had the knack of attracting some of the strongest jazz players available. This version of the orchestra, with Bruce Johnston on baritone sax and Randy Jones on drums to name a few, was one of his strongest. This set was recorded during a mid-day concert in front of a packed house of Columbia Record exec's. The reason was when the idea arose to record at Jimmy's there wasn't enough time to arrange it before the group headed off to another gig up in New England. So the afternoon concert was arranged so that the group could return to New York for the recording and still get back to their nighttime concert.

The music here is some of his best. "MacArthur's Park" is a great rendition, much better than the version recorded a couple years earlier on his Live at the Great American Music Hall pair of CD's. It's followed by my personnel favorite "Left Bank Express." Other top numbers are "Two for Otis", "Nice & Juicy" and the final piece, "Got the Spirit." But pretty much all the listing here is great, with maybe the first piece "Teonova" being the weakest.

Again, I just can not express how happy I am that this is finally out on CD. If you are a Maynard fanatic or just a fan of Big Band jazz, do not hesitate to buy this. It's well worth it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2007
Prior to going into a phase of attempting to mesh more commercial disco sensibilities with his sound, Maynard made music along these lines.

Now I know that there are many who relish hearing and buy Maynard for his virtuosity on trumpet but the real treasure here is the band.

By that I mean, this band has some marvelous soloists. The arrangments are outstanding and this band swings. At the time of the release there was some grumblings about the use of some electric piano on these pieces, but to my ear it works and is well in context.

The soloists I mentioned earlier are Bob Summers, Ferdinand Povel and Bruce Johnstone. Trumpet, Alto and Baritone saxes respectively. The tune that you you might consider commercial is "MacArthur Park" which is so maligned that it's almost gutsy to do the song. I liked their treatment of it. Maynard is Maynard on it. High up in the stratosphere near the satellites. Bruce Johnstone's solo is outstanding here even introducing a little Latin run.

"I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You" is startling. All Ferdinand Povel in a marvelous display of what jazz ballad soloing is all about. He improvises beautifully, with excellent tone, literally redefining and modernizing it. I can listen to this one over and over again.

"Got the Spirit" starts out with Bruce Johnstone in blues mode on Baritone and then segues to a wonderfully up-tempo display of virtuosity tenor saxophone virtuosity - by Ferdinand Povel, that section ending with Maynard and him trading licks.

"Stay Loose With Bruce" - is a swinging vehicle for Bruce Johnstone who plays it for all it's worth. Cool, imaginative, expansive and as I said, swinging.

"Left Bank Express" is solid, driving modern jazz orchestra that gets the blood going. Very nice soprano saxophone sol

"The Fox Hunt" is a tour de force featuring Bob Summer and Maynard playing at full throttle. An amazing display of virtuosity, fire and drive by both.

"Two For Otis" is jazz orchestra at it's highest form. It just brings the house down.

I could go on and on. This album is a winner and it's amazing that it took this long for this recording to come out on CD. That's a shame since this one's up there, for me. An excellent Maynard Ferguson recording.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2007
It's interesting that Maynard took a page out of the Rich book in recording this album live rather than in the studio. I was privileged to see this band live more than once during this period of time, even attended a clinic or two, and this is really the only Ferguson Big Band release that does justice to the band. This band had a loose, flowing nature, not as mechanistic as the Rich or even the Herman outfits; certainly more of a 'bop' inspired big band in the mold of say, the Clarke Boland Big Band or even somewhat the Don Ellis outfit. This is, to my mind, the definitive Maynard Ferguson Big Band release. While Biviano is an added attraction, he pales in significance to The Man himself, and Maynard always fielded an excellent roster of young musicians. Stay Loose With Bruce, Left Bank Express and the evergreen (for Maynard, anyway) Fox Hunt are some of the highlights from this recording.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2007
This is one of the best live big band/jazz albums ever recorded! From the hot opener Teonova to the ending tag of Blue Birdland, there's not a bad cut in the bunch. I wore out two copies on vinyl and waited twenty years to replace it on CD. If there was only one Maynard Ferguson album left on the planet, I hope this would be the one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 3, 2007
Having seen Maynard perform live many times in the 1970s, I feel confident in saying that this session best preserves the feeling of being at one of his concerts during that era - as long as you play it loud. Once he started the M.F. Horn series, Maynard didn't do many live recordings, so this is a real treat.

I agree with other reviewers that this CD was way too long in coming. This album has hot arrangements and some fine sidemen. Bob Summers does great trumpet work on "The Fox Hunt" and Lin Biviano behaves himself and plays a solid, clean set on lead trumpet. Bruce Johnstone excels in the sax section, except for his hokey humming flute solo in "Left Bank Express" where he sounds like he's going to sneeze into the instrument. Fortunately, he makes up for it on baritone sax on other tracks, including "MacArthur Park," "Two for Otis," "Got the Spirit," and "Stay Loose With Bruce." These last two are old favorites in Maynard's book, although the latter tune got renamed each time it featured a different soloist. (Check out "Geller's Cellar" featuring Herb Geller on the Live at Peacock Lane Hollywood album, and "Morgan's Organ" featuring Lanny Morgan on the Si, Si, MF album. Same chart!)

Of course, no Maynard concert would be complete without "Blue Birdland," a short, simple blues riff that only a jazz master could use to commandingly signal his presence or departure from the stage.

Add this to your jazz playlists - every track is a keeper.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2007
This album was recorded not before paying customers in a night-time venue, but rather in mid-day before an audience composed primarily of employees of Columbia Records in Manhattan. Why Columbia chose to do it this way, I have no clue. Surely the night-time audiences Maynard and his crew attracted in 1974 could have provided all the excitement anyone could have wanted in a live recording (I know, I saw the band numerous times during this period). Having said that, this album has all of the high energy that one would have experienced in a true 'club date' setting. For anyone who has ever had the privilege of seeing Maynard Ferguson live in a club setting, this album will surely provide some fond rememberances.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2007
I wholeheartily concur with the other reviewers. This is Maynard Ferguson and his band at their best. After listening to the CD, I'm even more impressed with the recording quality of this live album. It is a better than most of the live jazz recordings made today -- more than thirty years

later.

I've had the original record since it came out when I was in high school.

Maynard and his band were a huge influence on my friends and me. Several

of my classmates went on to be professional horn players. For me, Maynard

helped spark a lifelong appreciation of jazz and particulary big bands.

Sidenote: What became of Bruce Johnston? I think his bari solos on this

recording are some of my favorites of all time.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
As this album influenced my jazz tastes through junior high and high school, and into college, I spent countless hours listening to these tunes. Through 30-plus years, I've worn out three of the original albums and at least six tapes before this CD was released. To sit with headphones on and listen to the live atmosphere from Jimmy's takes me to the days of live concerts where high school and collegiate jazzers would sit in awe of the Master's stratospheric work, and the interaction of the musicians. All of the charts are outstanding, including the classic McArthur Park. Nice and Juicy is a fun chart, the Fox Hunt just kicks and Got the Spirit is the perfect closing for a great set.

Perhaps the best words for this album were uttered by Maynard himself as the band played "Blue Birdland" at the conclusion of the album: "I hope we get one hell of an album out of this."

You surely did, Mr. Ferguson, you surely did.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
Finally, the best by far of the "MF Horn" series is available on disc. I haven't heard it since high school and since I found the CD it hasn't left the player.

This is a wonderful live performance (if memory serves for an audience consisting exclusively of record execs). This is straight-ahead jazz--with none of the more pop, commercial arrangements that characterized most of the MF Horn series. The band consited of lesser known (to me, anyway) European sidemen who really wail. The soloists are top notch. If you have even a passing interest in Maynard Ferguson this is a must have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2007
This is such an incredible cd. I feel it's one of his best. I've been waiting for a long time for it to be put on cd and so happy that it finally has been. Worth every penny! I listened to the record(aging myself!) growing up and could listen to this everyday for the rest of my life! Got the Spirit is a song that inspired me to play the sax! There's none better than it!
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