🎶 Pick a Dozen Maynard Ferguson on Columbia

Highlighting the Pick a Dozen series
Granted, Maynard Ferguson went full pop-jazz with his Columbia recordings, yet they were an integral part of my musical upbringing, having played a handful of these charts while in a big band. Yeah, maybe they're a bit on the pop side of big band, but they were always fun to play. My picks here are, again, my favorites...of the Columbia era. If I had to take any two MF albums from this era to a desert island, they'd be M.F. Horn, and the double-LP M.F. Horn 4&5: Live at Jimmy's.

My list is heavier on tracks from the M.F. Horn series of albums, but includes a few from later releases. "Give it One" and "Country Road" are two I've played before, and they maintain their original running order from M.F. Horn 2. "Eli's" and "MacArthur" are probably the only two pop hits from my list, and both are from the first M.F. Horn album. "Star" was a surprising find--this is an album track from the Earth, Wind & Fire album Faces, the last of their classic albums with the full original lineup; Maynard's version appeared on the otherwise commercial It's My Time album.

The live version of "The Fox Hunt" comes from M.F. Horn 4&5: Live at Jimmy's, originally appearing on his Roulette album Maynard '63. (It wasn't his first encounter with foxes--early Roulette albums featured "Three Little Foxes" and "Three More Foxes.") "Teonova" is another great track which starts off this same album.

"Birdland," of course, hails from Weather Report, and this M.F. version actually had more local airplay on jazz radio than the Report's original. In a similar fusion mode, Maynard also pulls labelmate Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" out of his bag of tricks with a punch horn chart. Maynard also dips into a bit of a downtempo funky groove with "Nice 'n Juicy" from M.F. Horn 3.

Yes, "Conquistador" (title track for the album it's from) could be overblown, but it was one of those albums a lot of us had back in the day. (I preferred side two over side one, which featured the themes from both "Star Trek" and "Rocky," the latter becoming a #28 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.) That album also closed with "The Fly," whose processed sound and wah-wah pedal are just quirky enough that it works.

  1. Give It One
  2. Country Road
  3. Eli's Comin'
  4. The Fox Hunt
  5. Star
  6. MacArthur Park
  7. Birdland
  8. Nice 'n Juicy
  9. Conquistador
  10. Teonova
  11. Chameleon
  12. The Fly
Here's the list!



Find anything at all to like about Maynard's Columbia era? My challenge, of course--see if you can whip up a dozen of your own picks here!
 

bob knack

Well-Known Member
And no particular order,

Give It One

Chameleon

Birdland

Dance to Your Heart

Dayride

Maria

Conquistador

The Way We Were

La Fiesta

Superbone Meets the Badman

Left Bank Express

Awright Awright



If I think about it, I might replace Dayride with Eli’s Comin’.
 

Rudy

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Without checking, is that the same "Dayride" done by Return To Forever?
 

rbisherw

Well-Known Member
I love the early Columbia albums from the 70s.

From "Ballad Style" through MF Horn 4+5

Mf Horn and Mf Horn 3 being my favorites.

Production value of the Keith Mansfield produced albums captured the ferocity and virtuosity of the band much better than the later (Chameleon onwards) albums.
The Adrian Drover arrangements (Eli, McPark, Stoney End) amongst the best ever written for the band.

Pete Jackson and Randy Jones were integral to his early 70s band. Pete is all over Mf3 with his "electric" compositions.

My 12:

Eli's Comin'
MacArthur's Park (MF Horn version)
El Dopa
Give it one
Country Road
Awright, Awright
Pocahontas
SOMF
Round Midnight (MF Horn3 version)
Teanova (supposedly a studio version exists in Sony's vaults)
Stoney End
Got the Spirit (MF Horn 4+5 version)
 
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Rudy

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I wouldn't be surprised if there were still a few things in the vault, like you say, "Teonova." I'd read that "Teonova" was written in honor of Teo Macero. Those earliest albums certainly were the strongest, no doubt about it. It seems as though the cutoff point for many Maynard fans is, indeed, MF4&5, and in that live album, there is a lot which is reminiscent of his Roulette era recordings. (I will do a future playilst of those tracks, but it will be hard to choose due to the sheer number of tracks I have to pick from. The Mosaic box was a revelation back in the day.)

I had to pick some post MF4&5 tracks simply because we had played a few of those charts, and the albums were something quite a few of us owned, with that particular sweet spot being Chameleon through Conquistador, which had the bulk of the charts we played (except for "Country Road" and, oddly, "Give It One" in a marching band arrangement, which was actually quite a killer marching band chart, a lot of fun to play).

I'm more into the piano/synthesizer thing now, and gravitate towards the flute over other woodwinds, but playing in a big band is something I really miss. My dream chair would have been bari sax. Although it's a beast to carry around. 😁

I've dug up some reviews from the late 90s of a handful of Maynard's recordings, which I'll be reposting here in a few weeks. They're from a now-defunct site that I'm partially resurrecting out of mothballs.
 

rbisherw

Well-Known Member
Our stage band in high school had the Adrian Drover charts for McPark, Eli , Hey Jude and Stoney End.
I did double duty as the Valve bone soloist in Eli and the high trumpet parts in Stoney.

I may still have copies of the McPark and Eli brass charts somewhere in the basement.

In addition to Maynard, Don Ellis was/is a major influence for me and like Maynard still gets regular spins in my home.
 

Rudy

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In addition to Maynard, Don Ellis was/is a major influence for me and like Maynard still gets regular spins in my home.
I'm a more recent discoverer of Don Ellis. In fact, I'm working on a series (elsewhere) of John Klemmer's recordings, and it surprised me a little to find that he played with Ellis's band briefly around 1970. ("Excursion II" from At the Fillmore was his showcase.) First Ellis album I stumbled into at the used record store was the Live at Monterey album. He had me hooked with the track "3 3 2 2 2 1 2 2 2" (and that's just the area code).
 

rbisherw

Well-Known Member
Ellis had some exceptional musicians in his band.

For sax extraordinaire check out KC Blues from "Autumn" and Invincible from "Soaring"

kGLVeVj.jpg
His best studio recording, IMHO.

His best overall album which includes the incredible "Strawberry Soup" is "Tears of Joy" a double live album.

hZgOrtO.jpg


As always, these opinions are mine and your mileage may vary.

Enjoy!
 

Rudy

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My vinyl copy of Tears of Joy has some writing on the blue area in blue ball point pen: "The best album in the history of the world!"

Which made me wonder...why did it end up in a used record store, then?? 😁
 

bob knack

Well-Known Member
I love the early Columbia albums from the 70s.

From "Ballad Style" through MF Horn 4+5

Mf Horn and Mf Horn 3 being my favorites.

Production value of the Keith Mansfield produced albums captured the ferocity and virtuosity of the band much better than the later (Chameleon onwards) albums.
The Adrian Drover arrangements (Eli, McPark, Stoney End) amongst the best ever written for the band.

Pete Jackson and Randy Jones were integral to his early 70s band. Pete is all over Mf3 with his "electric" compositions.

My 12:

Eli's Comin'
MacArthur's Park (MF Horn version)
El Dopa
Give it one
Country Road
Awright, Awright
Pocahontas
SOMF
Round Midnight (MF Horn3 version)
Teanova (supposedly a studio version exists in Sony's vaults)
Stoney End
Got the Spirit (MF Horn 4+5 version)
It was my understanding that Teonova was a studio version that was tacked onto the live tracks. Maynard had dental work done and was not happy with the live version.
 
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