Maynard Ferguson at the Caspian Jazz and Blues Festival 2003, Baku
October 15th, 2003 00:00
Capital-Journal, The, Sep 26,
2003, by Bill
Cadence The Newsletter of American Voices
John Ferguson, Artistic Director
The highlight of our season so far has been the return of the Caspian
Jazz and Blues Festival. Despite the many international and domestic
events working against us in the spring of 2003, the festival went
forward as planned reaching a live audience of over eight thousand,
hundreds of young jazz students through workshops and featured the
debut of the Baku Big Band. Despite the many doubts expressed by
local musicians, we went forward with the Big Band project whose
debut performance on the Maynard Ferguson gala evening turned out
to be one of the highlights of the festival!
Ferguson still soars
September 26th, 2003 00:00
Capital-Journal, The, Sep 26,
2003, by Bill
By Bill Blankenship
However, when it came time to finish the set with
"The MF Hit Medley," which included "MacArthur Park,"
"Gonna Fly Now" from "Rocky" and "Hey Jude," Ferguson
let the youngsters play, with Patrick Hession
providing the stratospheric whistles Ferguson played
on those recordings.
Ferguson still plays at full roar
June 25th, 2003 00:00
By MIKE DREW
Special to the Journal Sentinel
Last Updated: June 25, 2003
High-note trumpeter Maynard Ferguson has come
screaming through Milwaukee for half a century,
igniting other people's bands and fronting his own.
Tuesday night, he led the latest version of his Big
Bop Nouveau fortissimo machine into Rainbow Summer's
In his prime, Ferguson could play at all tempi,
volumes and registers but his trademark was
stratospheric whistling, sometimes appropriate.
Astoundingly, at 75 he still has that unique talent
and he indulged it repeatedly Tuesday, screaming
double high C cadenzas on his Kenosha-made MF Horns.
Much seemed bleating self-caricature. But a big,
appreciative crowd didn't seem to mind that it heard
little Ferguson subtlety, if any survives.
One wonders how long the flame-throwing Ferguson can
soldier on in monthlong tours such as the one he
concluded Tuesday. It included one-nighters
throughout Europe. He's even paunchier than in his
last visit and, at full roar, his cardinal face was
worrisomely patriotic atop sweat-soaked blue shirt
and white pants.
His nine-piece Nouveau also was loud and brassy.
Besides Maynard, half of the six horns were
large-lunged trumpeters who could tightrope walk with
the leader. Much of the time, in fact, he relied on
them for the highest firepower.
Playing at full roar for 90 minutes, the Nouveau was
crisp and exciting in ensemble and solos, if
consistently overloud. Drummer Joel Fontain, a New
Zealander, was a reliable dynamo, with power left for
an extended solo on "The Girl From Ipanema."
The best creative turns came from saxophonist Mike
Dubaniewicz and trombonist Reggie Watkins. Nouveau
alumni and sometime arranger-trombonist Steve Wiest,
now of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, sat in
effectively on "Blues From Around Here."
The long set's only ballad, Dennis Diblasio's nice
arrangement of Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream"
showcased the leader, mellow for a change, on
fluegelhorn with some nice cross section blends. Then
it was back to pyrotechnics in a long medley of
Ferguson hits including "MacArthur Park," "Gonna Fly
Now" from "Rocky," "Hey Jude" and more, with
leather-lipped lead trumpet Patrick Hession taking
the cadenzas Maynard played on the records.
Still, Ferguson was giving his all in his eighth
decade, shaking his young colleagues' hands before
and after solos, conducting a little and,
periodically, unleashing that aging lion's roar.
The Milwaukee School of the Arts Jazz Lab Combo
opened the show with several tunes, featuring two
promising soloists: trumpeter Philip Dizack and
saxophonist Robert Scharon.
From the June 25, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee
"Highlights of the Life of Billy Hodges" (1928 -
2003) - Video Tribute
June 6th, 2003 09:28
"Highlights of the Life of Billy Hodges," the
incredible video tribute to my great friend, roommate
and mentor is now available on my website. Click on
the links below for streaming video. I've broken this
12-minute video tribute down into four smaller, more
manageable segments. Click the link below to walk
through the wonderful video tribute.
View Amazing Video
Hodges, 'unsung hero' of noted orchestras,
June 6th, 2003 09:27
June 06, 2003
By Ed Koch
LAS VEGAS SUN
Billy Hodges wanted to play the drums in his junior
high school band, but that instrument already had
"My father was told the only opening was for the
trumpet, so that's what he learned to play," said
Heidi Harris of Las Vegas. "He never thought he would
wind up playing the trumpet for a living."
But play for a living he did -- as lead trumpet on
world tours with legendary clarinetist Benny Goodman,
in the movie about the life of band leader/trombonist
Glenn Miller and on the Las Vegas Strip for five
William C. "Billy" Hodges, longtime lead trumpet for
the Riviera hotel's Dick Palombi Orchestra, who
backed up such stars as Frank Sinatra and Liza
Minelli, died Sunday of cancer in Las Vegas. He was
Services were Wednesday for the Las Vegas resident of
"Bill was one of the best lead trumpet players ever
in Las Vegas," said Barbara Hayes, the Riviera's
entertainment director from 1984 to 1995 and the wife
of Palombi, who was in Mexico Wednesday when he was
told of Hodges' death.
"Also, because Bill was in my husband's band, he was
the last lead trumpet in the last live showroom band
on the Las Vegas Strip before resorts went to
Thom Pastor, secretary-treasurer of Las Vegas
Musicians Local 369, of which Hodges was a member
since 1958, said Hodges is "an unsung hero" of the
Las Vegas stage -- a performer at the top of his game
who toiled in anonymity.
"Billy was an immense talent who night after night
hit the high notes -- he had perfect pitch," said
Pastor, a saxophonist. "But people today don't
realize what musicians like him meant to the history
of this town. And they are not recognized when they
go to grocery stores or other public places."
Harris said Hodges wouldn't have it any other
"My father was never one to brag about his
accomplishments," she said. "Although he performed a
lot of solos, he never wanted to be a star. He just
considered himself part of the band."
Born Aug. 4, 1928, in Charlotte, N.C., Hodges was the
son of railroad dining car steward William Hodges and
the former Clara Anderson. As a teenager, he toured
with big bands during summer vacations from high
school. Among them were the Dan Berry, Erv Hinkle and
Ray McKinley bands.
Hodges later joined Benny Goodman's band and did two
major international tours, including the historic
1958 performance in the Soviet Union, Pastor
Hodges also performed in the U.S. Air Force Airmen of
Note Band that formerly was the Glenn Miller Air
Force Dance Band. In 1954, Hodges performed as the
trumpet player in "The Glenn Miller Story" starring
Four years later, Hodges came to Las Vegas to check
out potential job opportunities, with little
intention of staying, his family said. But he soon
found work in the house band at the old El Rancho
Vegas across from where the Sahara now stands and
decided to settle here.
Hodges was introduced to Bonnie Edmond of the Edmond
Sisters singing trio that at the time was performing
at the Dunes. The couple married in 1960, had two
children and later divorced but remained friends.
Bonnie Clites survives him and today resides in San
Over the years, Hodges worked with numerous
headliners, including the Rat Pack -- Sinatra, Dean
Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., -- and Merv Griffin, who
hosted segments of his syndicated television show
from Las Vegas in the 1970s. Hodges also was in the
band for Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day
In 1995, Hodges retired and pursued his hobbies that
included photography, boating and making custom
trumpet mouthpieces. He also tutored young, promising
musicians, among them Patrick Hession, former UNLV
band trumpeter, who currently is lead trumpet for the
Maynard Ferguson Band.
In addition to his daughter and ex-wife, Hodges is
survived by a son, Chris Hodges of Gaithersburg, Md.;
a sister, Elizabeth Organ of Jacksonville, N.C.; and
two grandchildren, Rio and Reina Hodges of
A tribute to William C. "Billy" Hodges
June 1st, 2003 16:31
C. "Billy" Hodges passed away peacefully on Sunday,
June 1, after bravely battling cancer. Born in
Charlotte, North Carolina, August 4, 1928, Billy
played trumpet professionally for over 50 years, even
in high school, where he traveled with bands during
View full Article
Maynard Ferguson: masterclass and concert at East
Tennessee State University
April 18th, 2003 00:00
April 11, Maynard Ferguson visited East Tennessee
State University (ETSU) to perform a master class and
concert that evening as featured artist at the
Tri-Cities Jazz Fest, under the direction of Dr.
Mr. Ferguson will turn 75 in May and is still going
strong. His clinic included working with the ETSU
Jazz Ensemble and an attentive audience of over 100
trumpet lovers. He was introduced by the band playing
his signature tune, Blue Birdland, a show of respect
for his accomplishments which was well received
judging by the radiant smile on Ferguson's face. Also
presenting the master class were several members of
Ferguson's band, including trumpeters Patrick Hession
and Kevin Meads. The clinic focused on basic brass
breathing fundamentals, daily practice skills,
stylistic concerns and different uses of the
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JAZZ REVIEW - Maynard Ferguson lets loose a
January 31st, 2003 00:00
January 31, 2003
By Don Heckman, Special to The Times
Surprisingly, but perhaps understandably, given the
set's length, the super stratospheric notes in the
closing "Rocky" and "MacArthur Park" were delivered
not by Ferguson but by gifted lead trumpeter Patrick
View full Article