LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jazz trumpeter and big-band leader Walter "Maynard" Ferguson, famed for his screaming solos and ability to hit blisteringly high notes, has died at age 78, associates said on Thursday. The Montreal-born Ferguson died on Wednesday at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California, of kidney and liver failure brought on by an abdominal infection.While he wasn't exactly "mainstream", he was a fixture that will now leave a void. For sure.
His four daughters and other family members were at his side when he died.
Ferguson started his career at 13 when he performed as a featured soloist with the Canadian Broadcasting Co. Orchestra.
He played with several of the great big-band leaders of the 1940s and '50s, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Barnett, Jimmy Dorsey and Stan Kenton, with whom he was a featured performer.
He became known with the Kenton band for being able to hit "ridiculous high notes with ease," according to jazz critic Scott Yarnow.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz says of Ferguson: "There are few sights more impressive in animal physiology than the muscles in Maynard Ferguson's upper thorax straining for a top C.
"... Putting a Ferguson disc on the turntable evokes sensations ranging from walking into a high wind to being run down by a truck," according to the Penguin Guide.
RIP Maynard Ferguson
I wrote about Maynard Ferguson a while ago (here and here) when he was here earlier this year - I was lucky enough to take ThatOneSon, a young trumpet player, to see him around Valentine's Day this year. I was amazed then at his seeming effortless ability to still hit those stratoshperic notes. I was stunned.