Tuesday, February 17, 2004

One More M.F.-ing Jazz Concert

I went to hear Maynard Ferguson tonight, and my ears are still ringing.

(Oh wait...my ears have been ringing since 1999; never mind.)

I've seen Maynard three times in the past year and a half, all at local high schools (his preferred venue, since he knows he'll get a young, energetic crowd to go with his young, energetic band). The show hasn't changed all that much--even some of the gags are the same--but it's still great to see a living legend out there working it all the time.

This time the gig was at Plano Senior High (alma mater of 15th Street Jazz), which was thankfully close to the college, since lab band let out ten minutes before the concert started. Halfling, Demon Matt, Fizban and Dingus went up there ahead of me to save seats (and had their own little adventures, which were chronicled in Dingus's latest post). Unfortunately, we were a bit too close to the speakers up front, but I understand it was way louder during Plano's short opening set. (Our location did prove advantageous later when we all got to shake hands with lead trumpeter Patrick Hession during the obligatory trumpets-in-the-audience part of "Hey Jude.")

As I said, it was a typical Maynard show (lots of energy, lots of screaming trumpets), and the audience ate up every bit of it. Dingus always cracks jokes about the fear of seeing Maynard die on stage during a show, but if anything, he looked quite a bit healthier than a year ago. He still wheezes a bit when he's talking to the crowd, but he seemed to walk more surely across the stage this time and did a lot more "conducting" gestures during the show.

The set list was pretty typical: "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" and the funky in-your-face rendition of "The Girl from Ipanema" have been staples of all the recent Maynard shows I've seen. Of course, he closed with the obligatory "M.F. Hit Medley" (when the band feigned horror at his uttering of the M.F. part, he reminded everyone that those are his initials; I laughed even though I knew exactly where that gag was going), then waited until the crowd was whupped into a frenzy before going back onstage for "one more trip to Birdland."

There was something different at the beginning of the show: Trombonist/musical director Reggie Watkins and trumpeter Carl Fischer (yes, they evidently named him after a publishing company) each have new CD's, so they preceded their legendary boss's arrival with a combo tune apiece. Fischer was especially impressive; give him enough time, and he could take over the Maynard mantle one of these days.

At any rate, this is a show I never tire of seeing; here's hoping for several more trips to a high school auditorium for some high-octane jazz like this.

Quote of the day: "I think we're Whataburger-ing again."--Me, when I realized we'd stayed nearly an hour at Starbucks after the show.

Blowing out a couple full sets of candles, and a fractional one: Happy birthday to Andrew from Combo Too and Allan G. from SHS. Also, happy half-birthday Halfling (say that ten times fast).