Maynard Ferguson (May 4, 1928-August 23, 2006) was a Canadian born jazz trumpet player and band leader known for his ability to play extremely high notes. Many of his concerts were held to benefit high school & college music programs.
He began playing the trumpet at age nine. From 1943-1948 he attended the French Conservatory of Music. In 1944 he guested with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra. He joined the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra in March of 1949, and in 1950, joined the Stan Kenton orchestra. While he wasn't the lead trumpet player, he was featured as a high note specialist with the 'Innovations Orchestra', especially on the track titled simply 'Maynard Ferguson', one of a series of numbers featuring different band members.
He won the Downbeat (a popular jazz magazine) reader's poll as best trumpet player from 1951-1953.
In 1959 he performed Bill Russo's 'Titan Symphony' with the New York Philharmonic, directed by Leonard Bernstein.
In 1976 he played at the closing ceremonies for the Olympic games in Montreal.
Ferguson spent time in Hollywood as well, performing in nearly 50 movies, including 'The Ten Commandments'.
In the 1970s, he achieved his greatest commercial success with his 1977 recording of 'Gonna Fly Now', the theme from Rocky, which broke into the top 30 on the pop charts. His album Conquistador was nominated for a Grammy.
In 1992 he was elected into the Downbeat Hall of Fame.
In 1993 he was inducted into the International Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame
In 1997 he was awarded the Canadian Juno Lifetime Achievement Award
In 2000 he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in conjunction with the launch of the Maynard Ferguson Institute of Jazz Studies at Rowan University.
In 2004, the Maynard Ferguson Scholarship was started at the University of Missouri-St Louis. Also in 2004 he was awarded the Order of Canada.
In July of 2006 he was awarded the Charles E Lutton Man of Music award.
His final album 'The One & Only' was recorded from July 24-28, 2007.
The last thing he played was 'Taps' for his daughter's 23 year old cat.
Maynard also designed 2 unique instruments: The Firebird, a combination valve/slide trumpet, and the Superbone, a valve/slide trombone.