( May 4, 1928 – August 23, 2006 ) Was a Canadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader. He came to prominence playing in Stan Kenton's orchestra before forming his own band in 1957.
He was noted for his bands, which often served as stepping stones for up-and-coming talent and his ability to play expressively and accurately in a remarkably high register.
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Ferguson was born in Verdun (now part of Montreal), Quebec. Encouraged by his mother and father (both musicians), Maynard started playing piano and violin at the age of four. Newsreel footage exists of Ferguson as a child prodigy violinist.
At nine years old, he heard a cornet for the first time in his local church and asked his parents to purchase one for him. At age thirteen, Ferguson first soloed with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra. He was heard frequently on the CBC, notably featured on a "Serenade for Trumpet in Jazz" written for him by Morris Davis.
Ferguson won a scholarship to the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal where he studied from 1943 through 1948 with Bernard Baker.
Ferguson dropped out of Montreal High School at age 15 to more actively pursue a music career, performing in dance bands led by Stan Wood, Roland David, and Johnny Holmes. While trumpet was his primary instrument, Ferguson also performed on other brass and reed instruments.
Ferguson later took over the dance band formed by his saxophonist brother Percy, playing dates in the Montreal area and serving as an opening act for touring bands from Canada and the USA. During this period, Ferguson came to the attention of numerous American bandleaders and began receiving offers to come to the United States.
In 1948, Maynard Ferguson finally moved to the United States, intending to join Stan Kenton's organization. However, Kenton had just disbanded his orchestra, so Ferguson initially played with the bands of Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey, and Charlie Barnet. The Barnet band was notable for a trumpet section that also included Doc Severinsen, Ray Wetzel, Johnny Howell, and Rolf Ericson. Ferguson was featured on a notoriously flamboyant
Barnet recording of Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are" that showcased Ferguson's upper register playing.
The recording reportedly enraged Kern's widow and was subsequently withdrawn from sale. When Barnet temporarily retired in 1949 and disbanded his orchestra, Ferguson accepted an offer to join Stan Kenton's newly formed Innovations Orchestra.