It looks like the Maynard Ferguson reissues will be coming for awhile. Following on the heels of last years reissues of 1983’s Storm and 1984’s Live From San Francisco come 1986’s Body and Soul and 1989’s Be Bop Nouveau.
Body And Soul was a transition album for Ferguson. He eliminated part of his brass section and replaced them with guitarist Mike Higgins and percussionist Steve Fisher. This new line-up allowed him to focus more on the underlying rhythms of his music while pushing him in an improvisational direction as his was able to play off the guitar more easily than the missing brass instruments. It all adds up to a more jazz fusion oriented release than his big band approach of his past.
The lead track, “Expresso,” is emblematic of his new approach as it features the double percussion of Fisher and drummer Dave Miller, who provide a taking off place for Ferguson’s trumpet. It is a very creative jazz fusion concept that works.
“M.O.T.” finds Ferguson and sax player Tim Ries exchanging solos with Higgins. The song is also added as a live bonus track where it reappears with extra textures and subtleties.
“Beautiful Hearts” has a rare trio of featured musicians with Ferguson on the flugel horn combining with saxophonist Ries and Denis DiBlasio darting in and out on the flute.
Body & Soul is a very different release for Ferguson and stands virtually alone in his catalogue of albums. It combines a number of instruments into a big band fusion album. It remains an interesting and creative effort 30 years after its initial release.