Ferguson, Banded With Talent
From The Washington Post. Wednesday, March 10, 1993
By Mike Joyce

It's hard to say just what trumpeter Maynard Ferguson enjoyed more at Blues Alley Friday night: launching his piercing, stratospheric trademark solos and fills, or stepping back and listening as one of his young charges in his Big Bop Nouveau Band played with similar vitality and enthusiasm.

Brimming with talent, the band's present lineup afforded Ferguson ample opportunity to rest his formidable embouchure, though he never hesitated to reach into double high C territory whenever the spirit moved him. There were, here and there, some reflective and lyrical moments as well, especially when Ferguson joined pianist Doug Bickel on an impressionistic version of "But Beautiful." But mostly the band played with brassy effulgence, whether saluting Sonny Rollins (who happened to be playing nearby) with his contagious calypso "St. Thomas" or unveiling some new material from Ferguson's latest album, "Footpath Cafe."

Among the musicians who made the strongest impression were tenor saxophonist Matt Wallace, alto saxist/arranger Chip McNeill and trumpeter Dan Miller, who managed to hold his own as Ferguson's sparring partner and foil.