433

Maynard Ferguson: MF Horn 2 / The Ballad Style

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Maynard Ferguson: MF Horn 2 / The Ballad Style 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.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Vocalion | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Blue Canvas" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Canvas
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "The Evolution Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Evolution Suite
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Prairie Burn" CD/LP/Track Review Prairie Burn
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 9, 2016
Read "Nearly Extinct" CD/LP/Track Review Nearly Extinct
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Live In The South Bronx" CD/LP/Track Review Live In The South Bronx
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Westering Home" CD/LP/Track Review Westering Home
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!