August 26, 2006

Maynard Ferguson: 1928 - 2006

Maynard Ferguson: 1928-2006From Allah (swt) do we come, and unto Allah do we return. I'm sorry to hear that Maynard Ferguson has passed away. He was 78.

For those of us in the drum corps activity, Maynard was a major inspiration. My corps in 1978, the Empire State Express, played Maynard's arrangement of "Scheherazade," from the "New Vintage" album. It's a great song, and very typical of Maynard's style, with the elongated, park-and-blow double high C. On the recording, Maynard holds that double high C for - oh - 45 seconds or so. Our lead soprano could only hold it for about 20 seconds at the most. Maynard Ferguson: New VintageTheories abounded as to how Maynard could hold the note for so long, the most popular being "circular breathing," where Maynard could somehow both breathe in and play the trumpet simultaneously. The article linked above suggests that Maynard credited yoga for his ability to sustain his notes.

Maynard: You will be missed.

11 comments:

rlrr said...

Empire State Express

I remember them, a big corps formed by a meger of smaller corps -- completely destroyed us (Buckeye State Caballaros -- 65 members in 1978) in competition...

JD said...

Well, we "destroyed" a few corps that summer and got "destroyed" ourselves by a number of corps we thought we were competitive with. I'm sorry to say, we never considered the Caballaros to be among our rivals. Early in the '78 season, we kept on going up against the Royal Crusaders, only to keep getting our butts spanked.

At the NYS AL Championship, we honestly thought we had a chance to win that competition, only to come in 4th behind the Squires, Cadets of Greece and Avant Garde. Of those three corps, our sights were firmly set on the Squires (they were only 20 miles away from us). We never did beat any of the three, although we came very close toward the end of the season to catching up with the Squires (had the season lasted a few weeks longer for us, I think we could have beat them).

Actually, the one corps which we had an unexpected rivalry with was the General Butler Vagabonds. Late in the season, we started running into them. They won a few, we won a few; it was pretty interesting.

1978 was a pretty good year for me. :)

rlrr said...

we never considered the Caballaros to be among our rivals

We weren't much of anybody's rivals in 1978...

All the corps you mentioned bring back memories. A bunch of quality corps all within a few hours drive -- something you don't see nowadays.

JD said...

We weren't much of anybody's rivals in 1978...

That's how we were in '77 (and '76). After the '76 season, my parents saw how bad the corps was getting and asked me to drop out of the activity. I begged them for one more year; I was saved, so to speak, by the merger, which allowed me to march a second year. By the end of '78, when my parents again asked me to drop out, I didn't need to be persuaded.

Still, in '77, my "side" of the Express, the Mark Twain Cadets, had somewhere around 45-50 members and couldn't get our scores out of the low 30s. And yet, that wasn't even that bad considering the situation of the other corps to merge with us, the Grenadiers (who had once been a very good open class corps). They had been reduced to a mere parade unit.


All the corps you mentioned bring back memories. A bunch of quality corps all within a few hours drive -- something you don't see nowadays.

Agreed. It's quite shocking how few corps there are today. When I was growing up, in upstate NY, there was literally one corps every 20-40 miles away. If you drove along Route 17 in NY, from Corning to Binghamton (about 80 miles distance), you'd have passed by four different corps. Up through '75, the NYS AL Championship had a prelims/finals format; in '74, my corps, the Cadets didn't even make the finals! (And, yet, that was also the year we made the US Open Class A finals!) The competition within the state was that tough! And I don't think there's a single active junior corps left in NY now (although we do have, what, six senior corps left, thank God).

Kevin S said...

Having been a meber of the Mark twian cadets and the Empire State Express i had many great times and quite a few adventures. was looking up Maynard Furgesons Sheherazade, and found this blog. Memories. Maybe you remeber a small group of us in 77/78 the "Bubbaleers" We love to sing a few songs, and had fun. Kevin S. T.A.E. Drumline-- Triples/Quads/Bass

JD said...

Kevin: Perhaps you remember me (I'm fairly sure I remember you ;) ). Baritone, big guy. If you are who I think you are, perhaps this memory might mean something to you: playing Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" over and over on your boombox, then switching over to the radio station just before coming home one evening, only to hear "Feels So Good" once more. When everyone on the bus started complaining about you "playing" the song one more time, I backed you up saying that it wasn't a tape but the radio.

Remember? :)

howfunisthat said...

I have no idea if you'll see this since the last post is 2 years old...but I just ran across it while searching for Empire State Express. I marched in the Cadets in 1975...mellophone...and as one of the drum majors in the Empire State Express in '78. I don't remember the other drum major's name...she was from the Granadiers...I can see her face...just can't come up with her name. I wish I had kept up with people after that great summer, but life just swept along...it's amazing, though, once DC is in your blood, it's always there. I'm not even sure you'll get a chance to read this...if you do, I'd love to chat more....JaneP

JDsg said...

Hi, Jane!

John D. here, baritone with the Cadets from '74 to '77 and the Express in '78. Yes, I remember you. How could I not? I had a crush on you for a couple of years. ;) Ah, unrequited teenage love. ;)

Anyhoo... If I recall correctly, the name of your colleague in the silver lamé cape was Connie. Ring a bell? I forget the family's last name, although I do remember that she was the daughter of the Grenadiers' director, and that she had a brother (the awesome soprano player who did the Sheherazade solo at the beginning of the song) and a younger sister (another soprano?) in the corps as well. Unfortunately, most of my drum corps stuff (if it still exists) is either back in storage in Arizona or at my parents' home in NY.

Please send me an e-mail at dunner99rok at yahoo.com .

howfunisthat said...

Hey John...I did email you...hope I got the address right! Let me know if it doesn't come through...

janeP

JDsg said...

Welcome, Empire State Express alumni. A number of you have found my blog through this particular post, and I've been very happy to hear from those of you who have e-mailed me (dunner99rok at yahoo dot com).

What I'd like to ask of you is that, if you should have any scanned photos or other historical information from way back when about the Express, Mark Twain Cadets or Grenadiers, if you could please send me this at the above e-mail address, I'd like to be able to create some webpages for these corps. Unfortunately, all of my drum corps memorabilia is in storage, back in Arizona, which is why I'm asking for your help.

Thanks!

PS: As for who I am, if the e-mail address isn't enough of a clue, think "baritone." :)

Anonymous said...

Maynard Ferguson was a champion for gay mens rights and movements too! He gave many a gay musician a chance to be in his band!