Maynard Ferguson excites some interest today, partly because there are few big bands around, and his is newish, youngish, and forward-looking. For those who think historically, it would be fair to suggest that Ferguson is the Harry James of today. This is only slightly complicated by the fact that Harry James is still active, and leads a band which is as interesting as Ferguson’s, and much more pleasant to hear. On reflection, we might call Harry James the Maynard Ferguson of the ‘forties, but Ferguson probably has less staying power.
Ferguson’s band, when in full cry, makes a formidable sound. It generates a hard, brash excitement, and taking a cue from its pyrotechnical leader, yelps like a pack of rather small hounds. At slower tempos, and with gentler material, it makes rather less than the most of its capabilities.
Chris Connor’s poised, misty, rather dull voice is suited to these ten tracks of ballad fare, but one cannot pretend that the band is suited to the material, and much of the time it is operating at one-third pressure and making rather aimless howling noises apropos of nothing.
In short, this is a record in which both singer and band seem to be going through the motions. The motions are not very interesting.
Summertime; I Only Have Eyes For You; It Never Entered My Mind; Two Ladies In De Shade Of De Banana Tree; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (18 min) – The Lonesome Road; All The Things You Are; Black Coffee; Happy New Year; That’s How It Went All Right (18 min)
Maynard Ferguson (tpt/tbn/fr-h); Chet Ferretti. Rolf Ericson, Rick Kiefer (tpt); Ray Winslow, Kenny Rupp (tbn); Joe Farrell, Willie Maiden, Frank Hittner, Lannie Morgan (rds); Jaki Byard (p); Charlie Sanders (bs); Rufus Jones (d).
(London SAH-K 6190 12inLP 36s. 8d.)