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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


Maynard Ferguson

The Birdland Dream Band

RCAVICTOR Gold Series 09026638732


1. The Wailing boat
2. Somebody Wants Me Down there
3. Maynard the Fox
4. Blue Birdland
5. Great Guns
6. Lady Bug
7. More West
8. Still water Stomp
9. That Jones Boy
10. Rosebud
11. Button Nose
12. Little Girl Kimbi
13. 4 alt take
14. 6 alt take
15. 6 alt take
16. 8 alt take
17. 8alt take
18. 10 alt take
19. 10 alt take
20. 12 alt take
21. 12 alt take.

Maynard Ferguson - Trumpet & Valve Trombone
Al DeRisi, Joe Ferrante, Nick Travis - Trumpet
Eddie Bert, Jimmy Cleveland, Sonny Russo - Trombone
Herb Geller, Al Cohn, Bud Johnson, Ernie Wilkins - Saxes
Hank Jones - Piano
Milt Hinton - Bass
Jimmy Campbell - Drums
On tracks 4,6,8,10 and 13 to 18 add Ernie Royal - Trumpet omit Russo
On tracks 12 &21 Add Al Stewart - Trumpet, Arnold Fishkin - Bass replaces Hinton & Don Lamond - Drums replaces Campbell.

This album was originally released on an LP with the same title in 1956.

This band was created to fill Birdland in New York and to provide a band that could make some great records, it succeeded on both counts! When you look at the personnel, it really could not fail, every musician was vastly experienced and between them they had all played with just about every famous Big Band. As if the line up wasn't enough, the compositions and arrangements were written by, Bill Holman, Marty Paich, Manny Alban, John Mandel, Bob Brookmeyer and Al Cohn.

Al Cohn's original, but Lester Young inspired tenor sax solos pop up all over the album and each is a delight. To have Budd Johnson as the other tenor player was an inspired choice, he too plays some fine solos, but his tone and approach is different from that of Cohn, creating an interesting contrast. Maynard Ferguson has always been Mr Excitement; I have heard many of his bands and always enjoyed them both live and on records. His ability in the high note department changed everyone's perception of what was possible on the trumpet and he can still do it! It is interesting to compare his work on valve trombone, where his measured improvisations remind me of Bob Brookmeyer, with the flamboyance of his trumpet playing. Hank Jones brother of Thad and Elvin is on piano and as you would expect, he is the ideal big band pianist. Herb Geller is an excellent lead player for the saxophones and contributes some fine solos as well. Nick Travis plays some fine jazz trumpet and Jimmy Cleveland does the same on Trombone. The alternative takes demonstrate how little there is to choose between performances when the musicians are of this standard

This band made another album Birdland Dream Band Vol. 2 lets hope RCAVictor will re-release that one next!

Don Mather


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