Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • (Photo by Tony Swartz.)

    Maynard Ferguson has always been my favorite jazz trumpeter. That’s the work of my Dad, who introduced me to Maynard’s 1970s jazz-funk albums at a young age. He never pushed jazz on me -- or anything on me at all, really -- but I picked it up all the same, after listening to those tapes and CDs on long rides in the family van and then claiming them as my own.

    I saw him play live just once, in 2003, about three years before he passed away at age 78. It was in a small auditorium, with certainly no more than 50 people in attendance, and he was touring with a band full of college students, kids just a half-dozen years older than me. The cynical might call it sad, the famed Maynard in a band and venue so humble, but I saw -- and still see -- a man in love with music, and sharing that joy with talented kids who’ll never forget the days they spent jamming with a legend.

    And, undoubtedly, the man still had the chops. He was almost as wide as tall by then, but he could still pop out those preposterously high notes, if not hold them for as long as he once could.

    That night, a Saturday, also happened to be Game Four of the NLCS, the Cubs against the Marlins. There was real hope in town -- a sincere belief in the team, not just annual next-year-is-this-year coping -- that the Cubs would finally shake off the weight of decades of losing. While we waited outside the auditorium, a man with a radio shouted updates up and down the line, the emotions cascading like a visceral stadium wave.

    During breaks between songs, an assistant would run out to Maynard and hand him a scrap of paper, an update on the game scrawled across it. And he’d read us the score, after some playful teasing, in that unmistakable voice of his, sounding, as he did in his later years, perpetually out of breath.

    “All right, folks, and the score is...”
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.