Empire Statesmen Playing Maynard In 2007
Rochester’s Empire Statesmen will feature the music of Maynard Ferguson in 2007, in a Statesmen-style tribute to one of last great trumpet players of the Big Band era.
Canadian-born Ferguson was noted for his exceptional power, endurance and lip-splitting high-note command. He recorded 60 albums during a career that lasted for more than 60 years, including movies, television shows and live performances on bandstands and concert stages across North American and Europe.
Ferguson passed away in late August at age 78, of kidney and liver failure.
He often played lead trumpet parts an octave or two above the band, electrifying band members and the audience. He also played sensitive ballad solos, and jazz riffs. However, most Big Band music fans attended concerts to hear his darts into the upper range of the instrument.
Ferguson was born in 1928 in Montreal, Quebec, where his father was principal of Aberdeen School and his mother was a professional violinist and school administrator. He began to study piano and violin at the age of four, switching to the trumpet when he was nine years old. He later learned to play the baritone horn and valve-trombone.
Along with another world famous Montreal native, pianist Oscar Peterson, Ferguson got his start in the Victory Serenaders, the high school dance band led by his brother Percy. At age 11, he performed with the Canadian Broadcasting Company orchestra. He formed his first band five years later, billed as “Canada’s Harry James" and opened for Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
In 1948 at age 20, Ferguson linked up with Boyd Raeburn’s band in New York. The band’s next engagement was in Texas, followed by a return to the Apollo Theatre in Harlem a week later. Both Jimmy Dorsey and Charlie Barnet both wanted to hire him for their bands following the Apollo performances.
Playing with Stan Kenton’s legendary band from 1950 to 1953 gave Ferguson continent-wide exposure. In 1950, he debuted on television with the Kenton band on the Ed Sullivan Show. More information about the Statesmen’s 2007 Maynard Ferguson tribute and field show concept will be available at an open house weekend scheduled for early November at Our Lady of Mercy High School, on Blossom Road. The sessions are Saturday, November 11 from noon till 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 12 from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. The Statesmen’s second weekend camp will take place during the same hours on November 25 and 26.
The Empire Statesmen organization offers opportunities for involvement beyond participation as a marching member, support staff or committee volunteer in one of North America’s most popular drum and bugle corps. The Statesmen also operate the Empire Cadets youth marching band for area boys and girls as a community outreach program. The corps is also currently undertaking a major capital fund-raising campaign to provide the long-term financial support required to maintain various programs of both the Statesmen and the Empire Cadets.
The Statesmen will be sponsoring the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) world championship tournament on Labor Day weekend for the second year in a row in 2007. Preparation for next year’s event has already started.
The Empire Statesmen drum and bugle corps is a self-supporting independent group that represents the city of Rochester across the United States and Canada and as far abroad as Europe, the Caribbean and South America.
For information about the annual open house, membership and volunteer opportunities, call (585) 266-2232 or visit the Empire Statesmen Web site at: www.statesmen.org