Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A Disturbing and Fascinating Album
Michael Minn | New York City | 02/06/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Released in 1966 with little fanfare on a long forgotten label, "Ridin' High" is symbolic of the nadir that big band jazz reached in mid-60's America. This was Maynard's last album with the vestiges of the Birdland Dream Band before he followed the throngs of great American jazz artists exiled to the more receptive climes of Europe. The band features some excellent musicians (Lew Tabakin, Pepper Adams, Slide Hamption) and arrangers (Don Sebesky, Slide Hampton).
However, the whole is less than the sum of the parts. Maynard was obviously dealing with some chops problems as his trademark high notes are either strained or non-existent and his midrange solos sometimes verge on the bizzare. I recall an interview where he mentioned having some dental problems after getting hit in the mouth by a drunk at a dance, and I suspect that is the issue here. I consulted Maynard's biography (MF Horn by William F. Lee) but the book is a puff piece that rarely addresses the low points in Maynard's life with much honesty and contains only passing reference to this album.
Many of the arrangements reflect a feeble attempt to create a more "contemporary" sound with rock-flavored head tunes that are surprisingly unsatisfying to 21st-century ears. A true fusion of jazz horns with rock sensibilities would have to wait for Chicago, BS&T and a new crop of arrangers that would gain attention only a few months later. Ironically, perhaps the most interesting arrangement is a pointillistic cover of "Alfie," but hearing Maynard struggle unsuccessfully to soar majestically is almost painful to hear. The sonic quality of the album is stunningly clear for a 39-year-old tape, but the discrete stereo separation and complete lack of reverb only enhance the warts in the playing.
For die-hard Maynard fans interested in a complete picture of the artist, this album should probably be heard. But for those seeking the fabled excitement of Maynard Ferguson and his piercing high notes, you would be better served by the first "Birdland Dream Band" album, "Verve Jazz Masters 52" (a collection from his 50's Mercury recordings), Columbia collections like "The Essense of Maynard Ferguson," or his commercial trumphs "Conquistador" and "New Vintage""
Read & Believe All the Reviews!
W. Beck | Chicago, IL United States | 10/04/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Even though there are some fine musicians on this album, something went horribly wrong. The charts are mediocre, the band sounds awful, Maynard is really struggling. You will only listen to it once. For Maynard COLLECTORS only. Even then, you might think twice about your purchase.
Nice picture of Maynard on the motorcycle, though. Ridin' high???
Maybe Playin' "high"!"
I heard the man say it himself
Brad L. Stocker | Lexington, Ky. | 07/17/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"In 1969 or so I was a 17 year old Maynard fan in a small Kentucky town. Listening to late night air waves, I picked up an honest to God live interview with Maynard. Rodchester NY..a guy named Harry Abraham asked Maynard about this "album". I still remember his words " I must have been high on something to have let that album be released like that". That says it all. Nice cover!"