Saturday, August 26, 2006

The horn is quiet


My son just told me that Maynard Ferguson had died. “Who?” you say, and probably assumed cancer too. No to both, but an influential person in my family none the less. Ok, I’ll admit, I’d never heard of him before 1997, but I had heard his music, and being a fan of jazz, had enjoyed it immensely. And you’ve probably listened to his music too.

Let me tell you the whole story… in 1997 my son’s high school band was invited to march in the New Year’s Day parade in London. (For those who know my history, no, we weren’t living there at the time, we were home here in Lewes, Delaware, USA) And in order to get the 175 plus kids there and back took a lot of fund raising. The band director pulled some strings and arranged for some old guy to play a benefit concert to help raise money. He (the band director) was thrilled when this guy invited the jazz ensemble to accompany him with his most famous tune, “Gonna Fly Now” aka the theme from the hit motion picture "Rocky"

I can’t tell you what it was like listening to that tune over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over (and I am not exaggerating here) again as those kids learned their parts. I thought my head would explode if I heard it one more time… until the rehearsal with the man himself. It was to be a quick one, the show was just an hour or so away. They ran through the music, and he just stopped, put down his golden horn, and turned around and watched those kids play their hearts out. And he applauded them, and praised them too. He gave a few pointers to every single kid to help them do even better, although he said he’d never heard such perfection the first time around. Then he was gone to get a quick rest before the show.

The show was fabulous, no better than fabulous. Then came what many in the audience was waiting for, our kids. He introduced them and gave them time to warm up… and then picked up his horn and off they went… I have goose bumps now and can hear it as it was yesterday. He let them do improvised solos, played along with them, kept the music going and going, and then invited them to accompany him on his encore. It was sensational.

Now he is gone, and that golden trumpet is quiet. I miss those band kids, and I miss the music, and I will miss Maynard too. But I will never forget

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Marge