REVIEW by Kirk Silsbee Maynard! By Ralph Jungheim Buster Ann Music 240 pages, paper $29.95 In the 1970s, the future Grammy-winning producer Ralph Jungheim taped interviews with 30 musical intimates of trumpet phenom Maynard Ferguson, then enjoying huge success with the Theme From Rocky. This collection of those accounts is a Roshomon view of a man who, if not perfect, emerges as an uncommonly gifted instrumentalist and a man whom, if he hurt anyone, it was usually himself. What Stanley Dance did with his The World of series is telescoped here by these laser-like accounts of Maynard and those who moved in his orbit. The high-note trumpeter s brand of fortissimo jazz might not be your cup of tea, but the consensus of these elders, contemporaries and young players is that he s to be admired for his ability, dedication, tenacity, easy-going leadership and decency. Mundell Lowe, Charlie Teagarden, Charlie Barnet, Shelly Manne, Jim Conkling, Don Ellis, Don Menza, Lew Tabackin, Bobby Millitello and Peter Erskine are among the interviewees. Among the revelations: trombonist Milt Bernhart saw young Ferguson double on saxophones in a Canadian band; as a Jimmy Dorsey sideman, Maynard s family followed him around from job to job in an old Ford and watched over his money; Bud Shank recalled Ferguson as an introvert who played extroverted; Dinah Washington had a crazy crush on Maynard; Billie Holiday heard Maynard s big band with Irene Kral, and told him off for playing too loud behind her; trumpeter Bill Berry claims Ferguson missed a double high C; alto saxophonist Lanny Morgan saw Maynard get his front teeth capped and in two days play off the end of the piano on the last set; drummer Rufus Speedy Jones was in the Birdland Band that suffered through 37 ruined takes of a Chris Connor recording; LSD almost killed Maynard s career; arranger Marion Evans scared the wits out of studio trumpeters by dropping Maynard into sloppy sections; trumpeter Bob Summers claimed Maynard didn t practice but did a Yoga breathing technique. All participants are briefly identified and given an updated paragraph. A preface by the modest Jungheim as to the book s raison d'etre would have been in order. An explanation as to why he went to such extraordinary lengths to tell Ferguson s story has to be of more than passing interest. Still, this book is a must for Fergusonians. --Englands Jazz Journal, Nov. 2009
About the Author
Long-time record producer of 52 CDs, seven Grammy Nominees, 2 Grammy Winners.