Reprinted from yesterday's late edition
Maynard Ferguson plays trumpet the way Evel Knievel rides a motor-cycle and conducts an orchestra the way John Travolta dominates a disco floor.
Ferguson, a heavy, graying Norman Mailer lookalike with a fondness for wearing white, is a showman who enjoys the tricks as much as the technique. Brash and demanding, he is famous for coaxing out of his trumpet notes higher than that instrument is commonly supposed to be capable of producing, and there were times during his appearance at Wolf Trap Monday night when he seemed next to exploding.
Ferguson and his 13-piece orchestra - it has been 13 for two decades - drew a full house (and some hardy lawn-sitters) to the concert park despite rain and continuous lightning.
The high point of the two-hour performance was the lengthy arrangement of an aria from "Il Pagliacci" - a daring project which turned into a stunning achievement. Especially electrifying was a flute solo by Bob Milipello, and interweaving trombone lines from orchestra members Phil Gray, Nick Lane and Ferguson.
While Ferguson spent most of the night cranking up the orchestra and forging new heights for the trumpet, he also displayed his virtuosity on the flugelhorn and the "M. F. Firebird," an instrument of his own devising that is somewhere between the trumpet and the trombone.