Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

433

Maynard Ferguson: MF Horn 2 / The Ballad Style

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The two albums on this CD reissue from Vocalion were recorded during trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's "English period (1968-72). It was a time when Ferguson was trying a number of new things, some of which worked, and some of which didn't. The first eight tracks are from MF Horn 2, the others from The Ballad Style of Maynard Ferguson.

As one can readily hear on MF Horn, Ferguson had turned away from more traditional jazz and popular standards and toward such more recent pop songs as James Taylor's "Country Road, John Lennon's "Mother, Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft, David Clayton-Thomas' "Spinning Wheel and Lennon/McCartney's "Hey Jude. I have no problem with that, and there's no doubting the power or proficiency of Ferguson's ensemble, which was comprised of top-notch British musicians.

The problem I have with the album, as true with the reissue as it was with the initial release more than three decades ago, is the sound. For some reason, perhaps to accentuate the band's muscularity, reverb has been greatly over-used, lending the enterprise an unpleasant echo-chamber effect. On top of that, Ferguson and the other soloists are often short-changed, sounding at times as though they were playing in a nearby room.

The overall balance is definitely weighted toward the rhythm section at the expense of brass and reeds, and toward both at the expense of soloists, especially at faster tempos (it's not quite as conspicuous, for example, on Michel Legrand's ballad, "The Summer Knows ). If you can clear that hurdle, you should find MF Horn 2 generally rewarding (in spite of the vulgar vocal shenanigans and over-the-top coda on "Hey Jude ).

Sonically, The Ballad Style offers more of the same—Ferguson's over-brightened trumpet, encompassed on this occasion by a string orchestra conducted by Keith Mansfield. The album is all but devoid of improvisation, as Ferguson plays mostly the melodies while the strings provide the backdrop. There are some mandatory high notes, but not as many as one might anticipate.

There's a version of "Maria from West Side Story, but the ones performed with Ferguson's own band are more gratifying. Most of the other themes are quite familiar, from "Born Free and "Girl Talk to "The Impossible Dream, "As Long as He Needs Me, Lennon/McCartney's "The Fool on the Hill and Paul Simon's "The Sound of Silence. Mansfield's arrangements are bland and syrupy, and Ferguson hardly works up a sweat. Innocuous background music for elevators or waiting rooms.

Track Listing: Give It One; Country Road; Theme from Shaft; The Summer Knows; Mother; Spinning Wheel; Free Wheeler; Hey Jude; Born Free; Girl Talk; If He Walked Into My Life; The Fool on the Hill; The Impossible Dream; Somewhere; Maria; As Long as He Needs Me; Hushabye Mountain; The Sound of Silence; You Only Live Twice (76:38).

Personnel: MF Horn 2 - Maynard Ferguson: leader, trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone; John Donnelly, Martin Drover, Alan Downey, Mike Bailey, Bud Parks: trumpet; Billy Graham, Adrian Drover, Norman Fripp, Derek Wadsworth: trombone; Jeff Daly, Brian Smith, Bob Sydor, Bob Watson, Stan Robinson: reeds; Pete Jackson: piano, electric piano; Dave Lynane: bass, bass guitar; Randy Jones: drums; Ray Cooper, Harold Fisher: percussion. The Ballad Style - Maynard Ferguson: trumpet, with the Keith Mansfield Orchestra conducted by Alan Moorhouse.

Title: MF Horn 2 / The Ballad Style | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Vocalion

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read When Will The Blues Leave Album Reviews
When Will The Blues Leave
By Karl Ackermann
May 22, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Dan Bilawsky
May 22, 2019
Read Infinite Itinerant Album Reviews
Infinite Itinerant
By Geno Thackara
May 22, 2019
Read Pulcino Album Reviews
Pulcino
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 22, 2019
Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019