RIP Maynard Ferguson

Maynard Ferguson died this past Wednesday. For those of you who don’t know who he is, Maynard is one of the most popular jazz trumpeters. He’s been known for his cover recording of the Rocky theme, Gonna Fly Now.

I had the honor of meeting Maynard in either January or February of 1998. He came to Lubbock my freshman year at Texas Tech for a concert at Lubbock High School. The concert was simply amazing. At one point, Maynard went offstage during a medley of his most well-known hits: Birdland, MacArthur Park, Gonna Fly Now, and others. I figured he went to get some water or something. Nope. After three minutes the man appears at the back of the auditorium and began to mingle and talk to people in the audience as the band kept playing. He didn’t come near my seat unfortunately.

After the concert which lasted about an hour and a half, my friends and I went backstage hoping to get the chance to meet him. To our surprise, not fifteen minutes after the concert, the man comes out from his dressing room and actually began talking to those of us backstage. Class act. A real class act.

Now before the “jazz purists” start having a hissy fit. I’m not saying he was the best jazz trumpeter. Granted I don’t have a music performance degree, but I do know that his style wasn’t textbook. But damn.. the man could play. Not many people can hit a double high C like he could and sustain it. It wasn’t perfect, but even Stan Kenton recognized the talent.

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