Live From San Francisco is the second of two Maynard Ferguson reissue albums curtesy of the Omnivore label. The first, Storm (see previous review), was originally issued in 1982. Now what may be the best live album of Ferguson’s long career has finally been resurrected after decades out of print. While the two albums were originally issued two years apart, there is no duplication of material.
Ferguson had just returned to a more jazz fusion sound after years of trying to fit into the commercial styles of the day. His band at the time consisted of a nine piece brass section and a basic drums/bass/keyboard rhythm foundation. It is a full sound with plenty of room for solos. Key to his music during this time period is the underpinning of drummer Gregg Bissonette.
The highlight of the performance is the 13 minute “Bebop Buffett,” which is a brass filled tribute to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk. Ferguson steps forward for a rare vocal duet on the classic “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” with band member Denis DiBlasio. Throw in originals such as “Fireshaker,” “Ganesha,” and “Coconut Champagne” and you have the makings of a concert that presents Ferguson at his best.
The sound is excellent for the time period and holds up well. There could have been better liner notes but that is a minor complaint.
Live In San Francisco catches Ferguson at the beginning of the fertile last phase of his career.It is a performance to savor.