Once again, Sleepy Night Records digs through their vaults an old trunk, and dusts off some more "Lost Tapes":
Maynard Ferguson - The Lost Tapes Volume Two, revisits some more vintage demos and live recordings of Maynard and his big band from 1968-1974.
As with Volume One, these were never intended for release, and are presented warts and all. These are recordings for fans, to be sure. Fans of Maynard, or any fans of hard-core, heavy-hitting big-band jazz. Yes, that's a weird description, but it's the best one I can come up with for this particular era of music.
Check this out, for example: "Give It One" on YouTube
This is the sort of fire that Maynard's band was putting out at this time. In fact, there's an early version of "Give It One" on the Volume Two CD. It doesn't go at the blistering pace of the video, but it's still an amazing peek into a prototype of that song before it was ever laid down on vinyl. And despite being rough around the edges (this was one of the band's very first run-throughs of it), Maynard still tears it up with some amazing playing.
Other tracks include a rare full version of Maynard's theme song - "Blue Birdland", a Maynardized version of Glenn Miller's "In The Mood", live versions of two of Maynard's biggest concert "show-off" pieces: "Olé" and "La Fiesta", and the never-released (on any MF album) "L.A. Expression", plus several other tracks. And despite some poor quality recordings (and terrible intonation problems in the sax section on "Eli's Coming") this CD is just packed with incredible performances by Maynard and his band.
Maynard always surrounded himself with amazing musicians, and never shied away from letting them shine in the spotlight. This CD is full of rare treats (such as two tracks with Maynard on valve trombone), and is absolutely well-worth having - especially since the more they sell, the more likely they are to wrap up the "Lost Tapes" series with a double-CD Volume Three.
I can't wait!
I'm giving it 9/10
Addendum: Almost forgot - the liner notes are even better this time around, including recording dates, locations, equipment Maynard was playing on for each track, and some additional comments from band members. Definitely trumpet-geek heaven.