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Maynard Ferguson at the Caspian Jazz and Blues Festival 2003, Baku
October 15th, 2003 00:00
Topeka Capital-Journal, The, Sep 26, 2003, by Bill Blankenship Capital-Journal

Cadence The Newsletter of American Voices
John Ferguson, Artistic Director

The highlight of our season so far has been the return of the Caspian Jazz and Blues Festival. Despite the many international and domestic events working against us in the spring of 2003, the festival went forward as planned reaching a live audience of over eight thousand, hundreds of young jazz students through workshops and featured the debut of the Baku Big Band. Despite the many doubts expressed by local musicians, we went forward with the Big Band project whose debut performance on the Maynard Ferguson gala evening turned out to be one of the highlights of the festival!
Ferguson still soars
September 26th, 2003 00:00
Topeka Capital-Journal, The, Sep 26, 2003, by Bill Blankenship Capital-Journal

By Bill Blankenship

However, when it came time to finish the set with "The MF Hit Medley," which included "MacArthur Park," "Gonna Fly Now" from "Rocky" and "Hey Jude," Ferguson let the youngsters play, with Patrick Hession providing the stratospheric whistles Ferguson played on those recordings.
Ferguson still plays at full roar
June 25th, 2003 00:00
Special to the Journal Sentinel
Last Updated: June 25, 2003
High-note trumpeter Maynard Ferguson has come screaming through Milwaukee for half a century, igniting other people's bands and fronting his own. Tuesday night, he led the latest version of his Big Bop Nouveau fortissimo machine into Rainbow Summer's Peck Pavilion.

In his prime, Ferguson could play at all tempi, volumes and registers but his trademark was stratospheric whistling, sometimes appropriate. Astoundingly, at 75 he still has that unique talent and he indulged it repeatedly Tuesday, screaming double high C cadenzas on his Kenosha-made MF Horns. Much seemed bleating self-caricature. But a big, appreciative crowd didn't seem to mind that it heard little Ferguson subtlety, if any survives.

One wonders how long the flame-throwing Ferguson can soldier on in monthlong tours such as the one he concluded Tuesday. It included one-nighters throughout Europe. He's even paunchier than in his last visit and, at full roar, his cardinal face was worrisomely patriotic atop sweat-soaked blue shirt and white pants.

His nine-piece Nouveau also was loud and brassy. Besides Maynard, half of the six horns were large-lunged trumpeters who could tightrope walk with the leader. Much of the time, in fact, he relied on them for the highest firepower.

Playing at full roar for 90 minutes, the Nouveau was crisp and exciting in ensemble and solos, if consistently overloud. Drummer Joel Fontain, a New Zealander, was a reliable dynamo, with power left for an extended solo on "The Girl From Ipanema."

The best creative turns came from saxophonist Mike Dubaniewicz and trombonist Reggie Watkins. Nouveau alumni and sometime arranger-trombonist Steve Wiest, now of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, sat in effectively on "Blues From Around Here."

The long set's only ballad, Dennis Diblasio's nice arrangement of Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream" showcased the leader, mellow for a change, on fluegelhorn with some nice cross section blends. Then it was back to pyrotechnics in a long medley of Ferguson hits including "MacArthur Park," "Gonna Fly Now" from "Rocky," "Hey Jude" and more, with leather-lipped lead trumpet Patrick Hession taking the cadenzas Maynard played on the records.

Still, Ferguson was giving his all in his eighth decade, shaking his young colleagues' hands before and after solos, conducting a little and, periodically, unleashing that aging lion's roar.

The Milwaukee School of the Arts Jazz Lab Combo opened the show with several tunes, featuring two promising soloists: trumpeter Philip Dizack and saxophonist Robert Scharon.

From the June 25, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Highlights of the Life of Billy Hodges" (1928 - 2003) - Video Tribute
June 6th, 2003 09:28
"Highlights of the Life of Billy Hodges," the incredible video tribute to my great friend, roommate and mentor is now available on my website. Click on the links below for streaming video. I've broken this 12-minute video tribute down into four smaller, more manageable segments. Click the link below to walk through the wonderful video tribute.
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Hodges, 'unsung hero' of noted orchestras, dies
June 6th, 2003 09:27
June 06, 2003
By Ed Koch
Billy Hodges wanted to play the drums in his junior high school band, but that instrument already had been taken.

"My father was told the only opening was for the trumpet, so that's what he learned to play," said Heidi Harris of Las Vegas. "He never thought he would wind up playing the trumpet for a living."

But play for a living he did -- as lead trumpet on world tours with legendary clarinetist Benny Goodman, in the movie about the life of band leader/trombonist Glenn Miller and on the Las Vegas Strip for five decades.

William C. "Billy" Hodges, longtime lead trumpet for the Riviera hotel's Dick Palombi Orchestra, who backed up such stars as Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli, died Sunday of cancer in Las Vegas. He was 74.

Services were Wednesday for the Las Vegas resident of 45 years.

"Bill was one of the best lead trumpet players ever in Las Vegas," said Barbara Hayes, the Riviera's entertainment director from 1984 to 1995 and the wife of Palombi, who was in Mexico Wednesday when he was told of Hodges' death.

"Also, because Bill was in my husband's band, he was the last lead trumpet in the last live showroom band on the Las Vegas Strip before resorts went to tape-recorded music."

Thom Pastor, secretary-treasurer of Las Vegas Musicians Local 369, of which Hodges was a member since 1958, said Hodges is "an unsung hero" of the Las Vegas stage -- a performer at the top of his game who toiled in anonymity.

"Billy was an immense talent who night after night hit the high notes -- he had perfect pitch," said Pastor, a saxophonist. "But people today don't realize what musicians like him meant to the history of this town. And they are not recognized when they go to grocery stores or other public places."

Harris said Hodges wouldn't have it any other way.

"My father was never one to brag about his accomplishments," she said. "Although he performed a lot of solos, he never wanted to be a star. He just considered himself part of the band."

Born Aug. 4, 1928, in Charlotte, N.C., Hodges was the son of railroad dining car steward William Hodges and the former Clara Anderson. As a teenager, he toured with big bands during summer vacations from high school. Among them were the Dan Berry, Erv Hinkle and Ray McKinley bands.

Hodges later joined Benny Goodman's band and did two major international tours, including the historic 1958 performance in the Soviet Union, Pastor said.

Hodges also performed in the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note Band that formerly was the Glenn Miller Air Force Dance Band. In 1954, Hodges performed as the trumpet player in "The Glenn Miller Story" starring Jimmy Stewart.

Four years later, Hodges came to Las Vegas to check out potential job opportunities, with little intention of staying, his family said. But he soon found work in the house band at the old El Rancho Vegas across from where the Sahara now stands and decided to settle here.

Hodges was introduced to Bonnie Edmond of the Edmond Sisters singing trio that at the time was performing at the Dunes. The couple married in 1960, had two children and later divorced but remained friends. Bonnie Clites survives him and today resides in San Diego.

Over the years, Hodges worked with numerous headliners, including the Rat Pack -- Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., -- and Merv Griffin, who hosted segments of his syndicated television show from Las Vegas in the 1970s. Hodges also was in the band for Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethons.

In 1995, Hodges retired and pursued his hobbies that included photography, boating and making custom trumpet mouthpieces. He also tutored young, promising musicians, among them Patrick Hession, former UNLV band trumpeter, who currently is lead trumpet for the Maynard Ferguson Band.

In addition to his daughter and ex-wife, Hodges is survived by a son, Chris Hodges of Gaithersburg, Md.; a sister, Elizabeth Organ of Jacksonville, N.C.; and two grandchildren, Rio and Reina Hodges of Gaithersburg.
A tribute to William C. "Billy" Hodges
June 1st, 2003 16:31
William C. "Billy" Hodges passed away peacefully on Sunday, June 1, after bravely battling cancer. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 4, 1928, Billy played trumpet professionally for over 50 years, even in high school, where he traveled with bands during summer vacation.

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Maynard Ferguson: masterclass and concert at East Tennessee State University
April 18th, 2003 00:00
On April 11, Maynard Ferguson visited East Tennessee State University (ETSU) to perform a master class and concert that evening as featured artist at the Tri-Cities Jazz Fest, under the direction of Dr. David Champouillon.

Mr. Ferguson will turn 75 in May and is still going strong. His clinic included working with the ETSU Jazz Ensemble and an attentive audience of over 100 trumpet lovers. He was introduced by the band playing his signature tune, Blue Birdland, a show of respect for his accomplishments which was well received judging by the radiant smile on Ferguson's face. Also presenting the master class were several members of Ferguson's band, including trumpeters Patrick Hession and Kevin Meads. The clinic focused on basic brass breathing fundamentals, daily practice skills, stylistic concerns and different uses of the piece.
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JAZZ REVIEW - Maynard Ferguson lets loose a high-energy ensemble
January 31st, 2003 00:00
January 31, 2003
By Don Heckman, Special to The Times
Surprisingly, but perhaps understandably, given the set's length, the super stratospheric notes in the closing "Rocky" and "MacArthur Park" were delivered not by Ferguson but by gifted lead trumpeter Patrick Hession.
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