Maynard’s still got plenty of soul
September 30, 2005
BEAVER CREEK – Maybe his chops aren’t quite there but Maynard Ferguson has a lot to give back. The 77-year-old trumpeter literally blew it at the Vilar Thursday evening to an intimate audience, surprisingly one of the livelier I’ve seen at the venue. Known for bringing young talent along for the ride, possibly harping back to his own days as a musical prodigy, the players of the Big Bop Nouveau kicked big band booty. With three trumpets, a trombone, a sax, bass, piano and drums, the nine-piece was just enough to give it the big band feel.
Most notably of Ferguson’s protogees, 20-something drummer Stockton Helbing, who had more control than your grandmother’s panty hose. During an interesting version of “Girl from Ipanema,” arranged by big bop trumpeter Reggie Watkins, I thought Helbing might spontaneously decombust right along with the drum set, either that or reveal he’s really a robot. While the next minute he caressed the cymbals as if seducing a lover. He was truly awesome.Then there was the bass player, Brian Mulholland. He kind of stood there like you didn’t know if he fit in or not, playing triple stops on a single note instrument with economical movements, which ultimately resulted in charming character. Every now and again underneath his stoical persona, flashed a glimmer in his eyes and a smile so bright you knew he was loving every second of it. “Frame on the Blues” and “Birdland” were right on. But it was the M.F. Medley, which Ferguson pointed out are his initials, that brought the house down with “Hey Jude,” “McArthur Park” and “Gonna Fly Now.”
Ferguson’s always been the exception to bringing jazz home. Even in the ’70s when jazz lovers posed as rockers, Ferguson stepped onto the scene to round up young people. His band is arguably the premier jazz big band on the road today.At 77, when he could be at home watching TV on the couch, Ferguson has no choice but to go out and keep the soul alive.
Arts & Entertainment Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado