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Maynard Ferguson: Conquistador

Jim Santella By

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Maynard Ferguson's only gold album, Conquistador split its session time between his big band in San Francisco and a contemporary studio ensemble in New York. The 1977 album's memorable themes from Star Trek and Rocky, as well as the enchanting "Mister Mellow," made use of the studio ensemble with superlative results. Bob James and George Benson added a considerably fresh atmosphere to the album and ensured its crossover success.

While "Gonna Fly Now" and "Theme From Star Trek" turned out to be the big hits, the rest of the album remains significant for its overall pleasant atmosphere and late 1970s pop/rock sentiment. The leader's trumpet sound was pure and solid during those years, and Columbia's new digital remix does the sessions justice. The title track stands out for its majestic Spanish ancestry and its fresh, contemporary attack. Electric bass, electric guitar and electronic keyboards combined with funk-laden horn arrangements. The piece has the added benefit from a sensational tenor saxophone solo by Mark Colby.

Elsewhere on the album, Ferguson's hot and high solos are complemented by stellar solo work from Bob James, Mike Migliore, Jeff Layton, Bobby Militello and George Benson. Together, they made Conquistador an album to remember.


Track Listing: Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky); Mister Mellow; Theme from Star Trek; Conquistador; Soar Like an Eagle; The Fly.Sing Me Back Home; Lone Pilgrim.

Personnel: Maynard Ferguson- trumpet, flugelhorn. The Maynard Ferguson Band: Mike Migliore- alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Mark Colby- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Bobby Militello- baritone saxophone, flute; Stan Mark, Dennis Noday, Giuseppe Loon, Joe Mosello, Ron Tooley- trumpet; Randy Purcell, Roger Homefield- trombone; Peter Erskine- drums; Gordon Johnson- bass; Biff Hannon- keyboards; Tony Romano- sounds. Special guest soloists:George Benson- guitar; Bob James- keyboards. Additional Performers: Jeff Layton, Eric Gale, Lance Quinn- guitar; Kenny Ascher- keyboards; Gary King, Will Lee- bass; Harvey Mason, Allan Schwartzberg- drums; Ralph MacDonald- percussion; Phil Kraus- parade drum; George Young- alto saxophone; Joe Farrell- tenor saxophone; Jon Faddis, Marvin Stamm, Randy Brecker, Alan Rubin, Bernie Glow, Marky Markowitz, Jim Bossy- trumpet; Wayne Andre, Paul Faulise, Dave Taylor, Julian Priester- trombone; Brooks Tillotson, Donald Corrado- French horn; Patti Austin, Lani Groves, Gwen Guthrie, Linda November, Ellen Bernfield, Vivian Cherry, Richard Berg, Martin Nelson- vocals; Alfred Brown, Harry Cykman, Max Ellen, Paul Gershman, Harold Kohon, Charles Libove, Harry Lookofsky, Charles McCracken, Marvin Morgenstern, David Nadien, Eugene Noye, Max Pollikoff, Matthew Raimondi, Albert Scheonmaker, Alan Shulman, Richard Sortomme, Emanuel Vardi- strings.

Title: Conquistador | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Columbia Records

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