Saturday, May 4, 2013

Remembering Maynard Ferguson

I always think of Maynard Ferguson on May 4th.  This would have been his 85th birthday.  I'll be forever grateful for the opportunity I had to tour in his Big Bop Nouveau band (from 1998 - 2000).

Earl MacDonald accompanying Maynard Ferguson at the Ottawa Jazz FestivalI enjoyed playing for him once more in the alumni band formed for his 75th birthday, at Ryles jazz club. I admit that I "teared up" while playing his walk-on theme, "Blue Birdland" again.

He was perhaps the most gracious, humorous and positive person I have ever known.  Maynard's passing was very hard on me and I know I'm not alone in saying I miss him.

I chuckle when remembering a group of us buying him a pair of shoes for his birthday.  When the salesman wasn't looking, we switched one of the two shoes to a 1/2 size larger as his feet weren't the same size. (Maybe that is the highly sought secret to his upper register!)  Fun little memories like this often come to my mind at the least expected moments.

Maynard Ferguson and Earl MacDonald listening to the Manchester High School Jazz Band.  (circa 1999)
Most of my "road photos" were destroyed by my labrador retriever when he was a mischievous puppy.  But, here is one of Maynard and me listening to the Manchester High School band before sharing some tips. Little did I know then that I'd be settling in Connecticut, just 20 miles away from Manchester.

Happy Birthday Boss.


  1. We joined the band on the same day if I remember correctly. Do you know what day?

    I think he said, "I'm glad I don't have an all foreign band now" when he heard you were from Canada.



    1. Hi Rodney.
      It was Aug. 27, 1998 in Kenosha, WI.
      I believe the exact quote was "FINALLY, its not just me and a bunch of ______-ing foreigners!" He often just called me Canada. I loved hearing his stories about growing up in Montreal.
      ~ Earl