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

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "The Return of Art Pepper" CD/LP/Track Review The Return of Art Pepper
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 8, 2017
Read "Mississippi Slide!" CD/LP/Track Review Mississippi Slide!
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Cross My Palm With Silver" CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "La Diversité" CD/LP/Track Review La Diversité
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 31, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.