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Even after traveling the world over, often in primitive conditions, enduring countless one–night stands in towns large and small, and playing lead trumpet in groups of all shapes and sizes, Maynard Ferguson has never wavered in his love for Jazz or lost his enthusiasm for blowing — an enthusiasm that leaps out and grabs you whenever his youthful Big Bop Nouveau is within hearkening distance. To help keep the fires burning, Maynard surrounds himself with talented young players who push him to the limit, and his latest edition of BBN is no exception with capable holdovers Carl Fischer, Tom Garling, Matt Wallace and Ron Oswanski forming its nucleus and newcomers Frank Greene and Wayne Bergeron (trumpet), Sal Giorgianni (tenor), Paul Thompson (bass) and Dave Throckmorton (drums) rounding out the unit. With Maynard at its helm, the 10–piece ensemble delivers the sound of a much larger group. BBN swings with abandon on most of these selections, as does special guest alumnus Denis DiBlasio on “The Lip” (on which he sings and scats about a legendary high–note trumpeter — anyone we know? — and plays baritone sax before a certain well–known high–note specialist takes it out). If there’s an obvious shortcoming, it lies in the more than 15 minutes devoted to Maynard’s mandatory Indian raga, “Misra–Dhenuka.” But he has given us so much we’ll not complain too loudly about it (and besides, this one isn’t nearly as taxing as others we’ve heard). Garling, a superb composer and arranger, contributed two originals, the romantic “Waltz for Nicole” and buoyant “Knee Deep in Rio,” Oswanski wrote and arranged the sensuous “Milk of the Moon” for Maynard’s flugel, and BBN alum Christian Jacob composed the lovely ballad “Erica and Sandra.” BBN crashes headlong into the standards “Just Friends” and “I Love You,” while the closing number, “Caruso,” is a gentle Italian popular song invested with an operatic veneer by virtue of Maynard’s lyrical flugelhorn. On balance, another noteworthy session by one of Jazz’s legendary masters and his rapidly maturing disciples.
Track listing: Just Friends; Waltz for Nicole; I Love You; Milk of the Moon; Misra–Dhenuka; Knee Deep in Rio; Erica and Sandra; The Lip; Caruso (66:26).
Maynard Ferguson, trumpet, flugelhorn & firebird (valve and slide trumpet); Frank Greene, Wayne Bergeron, trumpet; Carl Fischer, trumpet, superbone; Tom Garling, trombone, superbone; Matt Wallace, Sal Giorgianni, tenor, alto saxes; Ron Oswanski, piano, keyboards; Paul Thompson, acoustic & electric bass; Dave Throckmorton, drums; Denis DiBlasio (special alumnus guest), baritone sax, vocals.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.