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The Louisville All-Star Big Band: Remembering Maynard Ferguson
September 27th, 2006 06:56
The show was incredible!!!
By The BST Blast

What a show! I mean, WOW!!! I'm not just blowing my own horn (pun intended). Sure, I put it together - but I take no credit for all the musicians' talents. Patrick Hession (Maynard Ferguson's last lead trumpet) was absolutely phenomenal. His tone and mastery of the stratosphere immediately made jaws drop. Many couldn't believe their ears. His double-C at the end of "Danny Boy" was held out longer than I've ever heard! It really made the audience reminisce about their favoite Maynard concert/recording. The only thing that would've been better? Maynard himself. It was obvious more than a little of M.F. rubbed off on Patrick in the 6+ years he occupied the most gruelling chair in jazz!
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One Final Trip to Birdland
September 21st, 2006 00:00
The Musings of Kev - Random Thoughts and Rants from an Everyday Saxophonist

Patrick Hession, Maynard's first lieutenant of recent years, hitting insanely high notes on several tunes. It really did go out of hearing range at times; somewhere on campus, a dog heard those notes and got a little bit hipper because of it.
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Maynard Ferguson, 78; Trumpeter, Big Band Leader Achieved Pop Success
August 25th, 2006 00:00
By Jon Thurber, Times Staff Writer
August 25, 2006

Maynard Ferguson, the big band leader and trumpeter whose screaming, high-register solos and pop-tinged arrangements thrilled his fans and sometimes appalled his critics, died Thursday. He was 78.

Ferguson died of kidney and liver failure, brought on by an abdominal infection, at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, said Steve Schankman, his manager.
Maynard Ferguson obituary: The obituary of jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson in Friday's California section said he died Thursday. He died Aug. 23rd.

An active musician, Ferguson recorded 60 albums in his long career and generally played about 150 annual engagements up until last year, Schankman said.

He had a weeklong run at the Blue Note in New York City last month, which he followed up by recording a new album with his Big Bop Nouveau band. He was due to begin a tour of Japan with the band in mid-September.

He started experiencing health problems on his return to his home in Ojai, Schankman said, and was hospitalized as his condition deteriorated.

Schankman said he spoke to Ferguson by phone on Monday and the musician told him, "Don't cancel anything . we are going to beat this."

Ferguson was nominated for a Grammy award in 1978 for his soaring recording of Bill Conti's composition "Gonna Fly Now," the theme from the film "Rocky." The song, on Ferguson's album "Conquistador," was one of his few chart-hitting recordings. It reached No. 22 on the pop album charts in 1977.

He also made commercially appealing recordings of the Jimmy Webb tune "MacArthur Park" and the Beatles' "Hey Jude."

His success with pop tunes was unusual for a player who cut his teeth on the classic jazz ensemble: the big band.

Ferguson was born May 4, 1928, in a suburb of Montreal. A child prodigy, Ferguson was playing violin and piano at age 4. At 13, he was soloing with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Orchestra. By 16, he was playing trumpet and leading a dance band that featured a young pianist named Oscar Peterson.

His band was often the opening act for visiting American big bands, including those led by Count Basie and Stan Kenton. The Americans were impressed with Ferguson's trumpet.

"I got a lot of offers to go out on the road," Ferguson told The Times some years ago. "Kenton told me I had a place as a featured trumpet player any time I wanted it."

By 1949, Ferguson had moved across the border, but Kenton was taking a break from touring and recording. So Ferguson made his U.S. debut in saxophonist Boyd Raeburn's big band. He also played in Jimmy Dorsey's band and Charlie Barnet's band before Kenton went back to work in 1950 with Ferguson in the trumpet section.

From 1950 to 1953, Ferguson was arguably the hottest trumpeter in jazz. His screaming, high-register trumpet was the cornerstone of Kenton's noted brass section. His dramatic style is featured on the tune "Maynard Ferguson," written by Ferguson, Kenton and Shorty Rogers and featured on the now-classic album "Stan Kenton Presents."

Ferguson was taking individual honors as well as being named best trumpeter in Down Beat magazine's annual poll for three consecutive years starting in 1950.

After leaving Kenton in 1953, he set out for Hollywood and got a job with Paramount Pictures playing on soundtracks. But he quickly found that work unsatisfying and returned to jazz. He led the Birdland Dreamband in New York and then formed what would be one in a series of 13-piece touring bands known for their biting brass sections.

His bands also would be known as great training grounds for some noted players. Over the years, his alumni would include saxophonist Wayne Shorter and keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who were founding members of Weather Report; pianist Chick Corea, trumpeter Chuck Mangione and arrangers such as Don Sebesky and Don Menza.

By 1967, however, big bands took a sharp dip in popularity and Ferguson disbanded his group.

His life took some sharp turns as well.

He moved his family to India on a spiritual quest and then lived in England. He began forming bands that used more pop-oriented material. This paved the way for his success in the 1970s with the theme from "Rocky."

And though this formula proved commercially viable over the next two decades, it often didn't play well with critics, who faulted the lack of subtlety in his playing and some dubious material.

Reviewing a 1979 performance at the Roxy, critic Leonard Feather wrote that "Ferguson's audiences, seeking the ultimate in pyrotechnical displays by a trumpeter with chops of steel, need look no further. On the other hand, music lovers searching for taste, dynamic contrast and sensitivity will have to look elsewhere."

Critics had a generally more sympathetic view of his later ensembles, notably the Big Bop Noveau band, which focused on straight-ahead jazz.

The spiritual quest Ferguson started in India in the 1960s led him to move his family to Ojai, then the base of operations for the Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti.

Ferguson was also a noted jazz teacher at the high school and college levels.

He is survived by his daughters Kim, Lisa, Corby and Wilder.

A memorial service, to be held in St. Louis, is being planned for mid-September. Memorial contributions may be made to the Maynard Ferguson Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Copyright (c) 2006 Los Angeles Times
Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson dies at 78
August 24th, 2006 08:40
Musician found mainstream success on "Gonna Fly Now" solo in 'Rocky'

Efrem Lukatsky / AP
Updated: 8:40 p.m. ET Aug 24, 2006

Jazz star Maynard Ferguson, known for his soaring high notes and for his hit recording of "Gonna Fly Now," which lent the musical muscle to the "Rocky" movies, died Wednesday night. He was 78.

Updated: 8:40 p.m. ET Aug 24, 2006

LOS ANGELES - Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, known for his soaring high notes and for his recording of "Gonna Fly Now," a hit version of the theme from the "Rocky" movies, has died. He was 78.
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Jazz Improv Magazine
August 23rd, 2006 00:00
Maynard Ferguson - Interview
by Joe Patitucci

MF: There are changes that go on. For instance, when we're at the Blue Note in New York, I'll have Mike Dubanowitz, Chip McNeil, and Dennis DiBlasio in the sax section. The trumpets are Patrick Hession, Michael Manthey and Serafin Aguilar who's fantastic. Steve Weist is the only trombone. My long-time rhythm section of Jeff Lashway, piano Brian Mulholland, bass and Stockton Helbing, drums will be there. Stockton is also the musical director. Some have been with me for a long time and some are coming back.
Patrick Hession - The Trumpet is a Soprano Instrument
June 9th, 2006 00:00
Friday, June 9 - 9:30 am
By Chuck Tumlinson

The clinic included several ideas for high range playing. If you improve in the normal range, this will also help your higher range. Also practice pretty melodies in higher keys. Either practice up in half steps, or take those melodies up an octave. (Hession learned this from Maynard!).

These are just a few of the ideas that Patrick Hession imparted to the receptive audience. He is obviously a strong player with an easygoing, pleasant personality. Hession is a goldmine with regard to his perceptive insights in the lead and bravura tradition of trumpet playing.
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Maynard Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau Band
May 7th, 2006 00:00
Even with the unusually long performance, lead trumpet player Patrick Hession never flinched. He continued to perform amazing feats of stratospheric trumpet work all the way to the end of the performance. He has a command of technique, style, range, and endurance that the rest of us can only dream of.

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Michael L. Hession, 61
April 8th, 2006 00:00
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
April 8, 2006
Section: OBIT
Page: 2C

Michael L. Hession, 61
Author: AR

Michael Lawrence Hession, 61, of 1009 Southlea Drive, was overjoyed to depart from this life to meet his Maker and others on the other side at 8:35 p.m. Thursday, April 6, 2006, at his residence, after suffering over 10 years with cardio obstructive pulmonary disease.

Born on March 1, 1945, to Leo Lawrence and Mary (Klinker) Hession he was the fourth of six children. He was raised in Lafayette, educated at St. Mary's Elementary School and Central Catholic High School, graduating in 1963. Prior to his senior year, he joined the Indiana Army National Guard, and served until he underwent 6 months of basic training and clerk school at Ft. Knox, Ky., following graduation. He then served as battalion medical clerk, battalion armorer and company clerk for Headquarters Company A,113th Medical Company, 38th Infantry Division from 1962-1968.

His first venture into the outside world was served in the timekeeping department of Ross Gear Division of TRW, Inc., from 1964-1966, where he left to serve as a professional letter carrier for nearly 30 years at the United States Postal Service. He retired on disability in 1995.

A lifelong member of St. Mary's Cathedral Church, he served as an altar boy there and at the Sisters Adorers Precious Blood Monastery during his elementary years, as well as sang in the boy's choir. He then became the 50-year ranking member of the Cathedral Adult Traditional Choir, giving up due to failing health.

Married on July 29, 1967, in St. Mary Cathedral Church to Anna Maxine Yorko of Punxsutawney, Pa., she was a ninth twin-sister of nine children. She preceded in death, following nearly 23 years of marriage and a 10-year battle with breast cancer at the young age of 44, after blessing him with four handsome and successful sons.

He served proudly as the third generation Grand Knight of Lafayette Council #456 of the Knights of Columbus from 1987-1988, when he was appointed Indiana District Deputy #15 by State Deputy Bernard Gannon. He served for over two years, relinquishing his duties through second term due to the health of his wife, who died in early March of 1990. He also served as Council Envoy to Fr. Gibault School for Boys and Girls, owned and supported by the Indiana K of C south of Terre Haute on U.S. 43S, and was a proud member and honor guard for the Marquis de Lafayette Fourth Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus and American Legion Post 11.

He was a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers #466, AARP, an active member and supporter of the 12-Step AA Program. He oversaw morning meetings and volunteered each Tuesday at the S.U.R.F. Center for over four years after retirement, by the grace of God. He was also a charter member of the Old Hickory Democratic Club and a former member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Moose Lodge.

Surviving are four sons, Patrick Edward, on tour as lead trumpet for the legendary Maynard Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau Band, Philip Michael of Elk Grove, IL, Stephen John of Vernon Hills, IL, and Michael Joseph of Lafayette; one brother, Patrick Joseph (wife: Penny) of Millers Creek, N.C.; three sisters, Mary Cecilia LaReau (Jim) of Lafayette, Jude Ann Synesael (Jerry) of Lafayette and Eileen Joan Hession-Weiss (Jim) of Seabring, Fla. Preceded in death include his wife and parents, as well as a younger brother Philip Edward, who died at 17 months.

Visitation will be 5-8 p.m. Sunday at Soller-Baker Lafayette Chapel, 400 Twyckenham Blvd., with scripture service at 7:30 p.m. Funeral Mass 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Mary Cathedral, Fr. Bob Klemme officiating. Interment St. Mary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Mary Cathedral Restoration Project or Father Gibault School Foundation.

Copyright (c) Journal and Courier. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
"MF Horn VI - Live at Ronnie's"
March 10th, 2006 00:00
"MF Horn VI - Live at Ronnie's"

St. Louis, MO (March 10, 2006) - Maynard Ferguson Music USA, Inc. announces the release of their new live album, "MF Horn VI - Live at Ronnie's" on Tuesday, March 28th, 2006. Recorded in the summer of 2005 at the legendary Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, England, this album features exciting new arrangements of classic jazz standards done in the colorful Ferguson way, as well as a few quintessential Ferguson chart toppers.®
Ferguson wows Severinsen's crowd
February 27th, 2006 00:00
Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 9:21 pm
Post subject: Ferguson wows Severinsen's crowd

In a hastily arranged concert, Maynard Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau Band performed at the the University of Central Arkansas Toad Suck Jazz Daze tonight in Conway, AR. The nearly sold-out audience had originally purchased tickets to hear Doc Severinsen and his Big Band but, because of logistical issues, Severinsen's concert was postponed.

Dr. Larry Jones, Professor of Trumpet and Director of the Jazz Band, was able to get the Ferguson band between gigs in Dallas and Memphis. Ticket holders to Severinsen's concert were given the option to return their tickets, trade them for the Ferguson concert, or donate them to the university.

The seventy-five minute concert (no breaks) opened with piano, bass, drums, and trombone playing pieces from the 'bone's and drummer's recently released albums. Then the rest of the band (three trumpets, two saxes) joined the group and presented "The Legendary MAYNARD FERGUSON!"

I am ashamed not to have written down the names of the tunes they played, but the opening number was a huge blues piece. Although I've seen many groups in my time, I had forgotten just how tight a group can play. The Big Bop Nouveau Band is amoung the tightest. In the blues piece, the group sounded as if it were being played by a keyboardist, so precice the attacks and releases.

Other pieces included Dr. (something), Ph.D., I Love You, Birdland, and a medley of pieces paying tribute to Maynard's chart-topping hits.

The Big Bop Nouveau Band features:
Julio Monterray, Alto Sax (little guy, huge player)
Matt Parker, Tenor Sax (huge guy, huger player)
Patrick Hession, Lead Trumpet (oh, my God)
Ken Robinson, Trumpet (piccolo master!)
Peter Ferguson, Trumpet (backed up Hession on lead)
Reggie Watkins, Trombone
Jeff Lashway, Piano (pure, elegant taste)
Brian Mulhollard, Bass (what a sound)
Stockton Helbing, Drums (the next Peter Erskin?)

Mike Freeland is the sound man and Ed Sargent is the tour manager.

Ferguson, in his seventies, knows how to put on a show. Still a pretty good jazzer, he also still has his range, albeit with less power and authority of his younger years. I was more amazed with his breathing technique - his portly belly being thrown up and down as he shortened his windpipe for the upper register.

Ferguson's mastery of breathing supports the finest example of the Roy Stephen's embochure ever known. The Stephen's method is exemplified with a fat, ugly tone in the lower (below low C) register and a funky sound in the middle register. But, when used as expertly as Ferguson in the upper register, it really shines.

For the record, Ferguson will deny using Stephen's method, but the fact is that he studied with Roy Stephens several years ago.

The Stephen's method is best characterized as blowing upstream, or toward the tip of one's nose. It requires a strong, steady jaw and a fast air stream. Ferguson's gift is that he seamlessly couples yoga breathing skills with the Stephen's method.

Lead trumpeter Patrick Hession also uses yoga breathing techniques, but one could not see it during his brief appearances at the solo mike. Not a practitioner of the Stephen's method, Hession's sound is considerably darker in the upper register than Ferguson's. Hession told me after the show that he uses his Ferguson equipment and set-up for classical gigs because he can play with full, rich overtones over the whole spectrum.

Although I didn't see it, Hession described his custom Monette mouthpiece as being a deep-V double cup (way deeper than a Parduba, he said). This, alone, would explain his dark tone, but then he said he gets an equally dark tone on a 6A4a. He ascribes it simply as 'his sound'.

He has all of Ferguson's range and more, but it doesn't seem to come as effortlessly as does Ferguson's. Nevertheless, he's one huge player. His playing resume is equally impressive.

The alto sax player, Julio Monterray, plays with the distinct, haunting sound of a well-played soprano sax (Kenny G. is NOT an example this sound). Small in stature, Julio is a giant player. He doesn't move much when playing, except he'll lift is left shoulder ever so slightly during some of the more difficult lines. But don't let that lure you into thinking he must not be playing. Geez, what a great jazzer, for a young fellow.

Bassist Mulholland plays with a clear Pastorius influence, dexterity, and imagination. He had three solo breaks - and stunned us (and the band on one of them) with his talent. He's no show off, but talent like that speaks for itself.

Finally, the drummer is a fresh-out-of-college prodigy. His youthful enthusiasm is engaging, but he plays with the maturity of a well-seasoned pro. I've not heard playing like that at that age since having heard Peter Erskin when he was with the Kenton band at age 18. During his solo break, the entire band, Ferguson included, left the stage for the 10 minute solo. He is very imaginative, despite being a drummer.

Tenor sax Matt Parker "... carries a pallet of both bold and delicate tones ...". He also was having the time of his life trading fours with Ferguson.

The Severinsen audience yielded only polite applause at the beginning of the concert. But by the end, Ferguson had won them over with gusto and showmanship.
Maynard Ferguson - Live at Santa Fe Station, Las Vegas, NV - October 9, 2005
February 20th, 2006 00:00
New video from Maynard Ferguson & Big Bop Nouveau has been added to the video page. This footage is from October 9, 2005 at Santa Fe Station in Las Vegas. There are two versions of each video clip available for download (Windows Media format and iPod-ready format).

Click here to see the video!
Voice of Raisin - Concert Review: Maynard Ferguson and His Big Bop Nouveau Band
February 7th, 2006 16:27
February 7, 2006
Concert Review: Maynard Ferguson and His Big Bop Nouvea Band
Filed under: Music - Willy @ 4:27 pm
February 6, 2006 - Bingham High Auditorium

Wow. Maynard and his band know how to put on a show! Ferguson's playing is still very strong. High notes that defy belief, and a tremulant, floating style that is urgent, but un-hurried. Maynard seems to have assembled a top-flight group to accompany him. Trumpets - Patrick Hession, Jamie Hovorka and Peter Ferguson (Maynard's Nephew). Good, solid trumpet section to back up the master. Hession shined on a medley of Maynard Ferguson favorites. He was trumpetting some truly stratospheric pitches. Saxes - Julio Monterray (alto) and Matt Parker (tenor), Trombonist Reggie Watkins seemed very comfortable in the second-in-command spot, directing traffic on the band stand. Watkins' playing left very little to be desired. Pianist Jeff Lashway played brilliantly on a couple of nice ballands. The bassist, Brian Mulholland, played some virtuosic solos. I love it when a good bass player is really wailing in their upper register, and you realize they're still walking, too. To me, the highlight of the evening was the extended, snares-off drum solo by Stockton Helbing. Helbing is a graduate of the University of North Texas, where he studied drums with Ed Soph. The band played a blistering and inventive arrangment of "Girl From Ipanema" and when the drum solo started, the rest of the group vacated the stage. Helbing proceeded to take the audience on a comprehensive tour of the drumset. I was blown away by his control of dynamics, and the different colors he was able to pull out of his kit were absolutely stunning. The solo lasted between 5 and 10 minutes, and I didn't breath the whole time. Blazing single stroke technique, coupled with a flowing melodic style. Incredible.

Also worth noting is the lighting. Now, I'm not too into the commercialization of our dear art form, and if you'd told me there was to be a light show, I would have scoffed. Well, I'm re-assesing that this morning. From subtle red-hues for the band while Maynard wailed in a single pin-spot to precisely timed lighting to accompany kicks from the horn section, the lights for the show were complex but never distracting. In fact, they served to focus the audience's attention on the soloist or to enhance sudden mood changes in the score. Amazing.

The outstanding technical and artistic mastery of the musicians, coupled with the sensitively applied lighting combined to make this one of the most entertaining performances of Jazz I have ever seen. Kudos to Maynard and the Band.
Christmas and Hanukkah and Skynyrd, oh my!
January 21st, 2006 00:00
The holiday season was as busy as ever for Patrick in 2005. Since Christmas and Hanukkah fell on December 25th this year, Patrick not only played three Catholic Masses but he then played a four hour rehearsal followed by a three hour and fifteen minute Hanukkah show that very evening. On December 30th, Patrick had the honor of playing with Rock Legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Official Website

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