Maynard Ferguson's sudden passing in the summer of 2006 was a surprise to many jazz fans, as the always upbeat bandleader seemed indestructible. Just a few weeks prior to his death, the trumpeter took his Big Bop Noveau into the studio to record what evidently is his final album. With a number of creative arrangements and original compositions contributed for the recording by Ferguson's bandmembers, the players took to each of them with the same enthusiasm that their leader showed on a everyday basis. Every track should be considered a highlight of the CD, though saxophonist Chip McNeil's scoring of the standard "Without a Song," trombonist Steve Wiest's percolating arrangement of Bill Withers' often bland "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," and Denis DiBlasio's hip setting of Henry Mancini's "Days of Wine and Roses" merit strong praise. Ferguson's son-in-law (and former pianist) Christian Jacob makes a guest appearance on "Lost Horizon," a captivating original ballad that he wrote especially for his former boss. The leader is featured on both trumpet and flugelhorn, along with trumpeter Wayne Bergeron and the composer; after a mellow introduction, it turns into a driving cooker. Always one to show off his incredible range on his instrument, Maynard Ferguson ended his career with one of his very best recordings, so it is not a cliché to say that he finished on top!
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden