Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 20:34:15 +0000
From: "Nicholas Drozdoff" <>
Subject: [TPIN] My Reflections of Maynard's Impact on my life - he will be missed

The Impact of Maynard Ferguson on My Professional Life as a Trumpeter:

It is 2:50 on August 24, 2006. I just taught 90 minutes of classes putting on a happy face even though I was struggling with a sense of sadness at just hearing of the passing of trumpet legend, Maynard Ferguson. I got through it, and will be fine, of course. More on that, later.

Now, folks who know me well may ask, “Why are you so bothered by this? You only really did three complete tours with him! You didn’t even finish a full year!” Well, these queries deserve answers.

First, I left when I did, by and large due to the fact that I was a newlywed when I went on the road with Maynard. My new wife was very supportive of the move onto the road. She knew how important to a young trumpeter it was to go on the road with Maynard Ferguson. However, I felt I had to come home when I did. This was made easier due to some personal challenges (which had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with Maynard!) I was facing on the road.

Next, those three tours I did with Maynard Ferguson were some of the most cherished moments of my career. My life would not have been the same without them. I learned a great deal about trumpet playing, musicianship, jazz and humanity that I would have missed had I not had that experience. I learned as much about me as I did one of the greatest jazz trumpet legends who ever lived.

Maynard has had a huge impact of the lives of virtually every trumpeter, in some way. Certainly, the legacy of high notes is there. However, Ferguson brought a sense of musicianship and artistry to that aspect of trumpet playing that has only been approached by others. I recently posted a comment in a forum about Maynard’s version of Gershwin’s “Summertime” on a recording with Max Roach, Dinah Washington and Clifford Brown. In listening to that piece, one can only stand in sheer awe at the power and majesty of his work. I was more than just an athletic event. It was beautiful music in the hands of a master trumpeter.

For me, The Fox will live on forever in his recordings, of course, but also in the memories of the conversations I had with him during my brief tenure on his band – his words of encouragement and advice through some rough patches I had along with his stories about his experiences with other jazz greats. His jovial and kind nature will never be diminished in my mind. Those moments in hanging out with him on the band bus, on the airplane to Japan, on bullet train platforms, the rehearsals in Orlando Florida, his joking around with us, will always be with me. I’ll never forget the time he met my wife and then treated her to my getting to trade solos with him on Latino Lovewalk at Rolling Meadows High School. When Alan Wise dubbed me “Studio Man,” Ferguson was like another little kid with that, too! I could go on, but I’ll spare you. I may have only done three tours, but oh what a three tours those were!

In short, I am a very privileged man. I got to be on the road with one of  the greatest jazz legends of our time. Certainly, he’ll be missed, but rather than morn his passing, I am going to celebrate his life and all the beauty and joy he brought us.

Much gratitude is due to Maynard Ferguson, for my part.

FWIIW coming from me.

Nick Drozdoff