Maynard Ferguson & Big Bop Nouveau / Maynard Ferguson

Brass Attitude

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Brass Attitude Review

by Richard S. Ginell

With one major exception, the tracks on Brass Attitude reflect the relatively traditional (dare we say restrained) big band sound of Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau, whose most distinctive feature by far is -- surprise, surprise -- its leader. At 70, MF still has a lot left, able to blast away at those ultrasonic passages and dish out that throbbing, unctious tone in the middle regions. Yet he seems to be choosing his spots with more economy, resorting frequently to the flugelhorn for mellower passages. The soloing by MF's sidemen -- the most prominently featured of whom are Tom Garling on trombone and Sal Giorgianni on tenor sax -- is of a competent, energetic bop variety with few distinguishing qualities. Thankfully, an element of strangeness bursts forth at the album's midpoint, "Misra-Dhenuka," a nearly 16-minute reminder of MF's sabbatical in India. Grounded in a raga, it dissolves into a 6/8 meter vamp based on what sounds like a Spanish chordal pattern. A less welcome bit of weirdness is MF alumnus Denis DiBlasio's amateurish vocal cameo in "The Lip," which in this context fawns over MF's high-note proclivity as shamelessly as rappers have about Miles Davis.

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